Solid Waste & Recycling
Daily News Sunday, November 03, 2008
Alberta first province to start recycling
By: Erika Beauchesne, Web
reporterAlberta is drafting plans to
start recycling construction and demolition waste -- refuse that makes up nearly
a quarter of the province's landfills.
The Alberta Construction
Association and the Canadian Home Builders' Association of Alberta have
partnered with the government and expect the program to be up and running by
Although Alberta Environment has not decided exactly how the system
would work, one option might be a deposit-refund program, says Chris Boudreau, a
spokesperson with the ministry.
Under the program, industry would be
reimbursed for a deposit on materials provided it meets whatever criteria the
province lays out. The money generated would fund the program, as would any
unredeemed funds. There would be no cost to taxpayers or
"Only 10 per cent of what we could recycle is actually
being recycled right now," Boudreau says.
"We needed to do something
about the volume of waste that is being created."
executive director of the Recycling Council of Alberta, says economic and
population growth generated a massive increase in housing and commercial
construction projects throughout the province.
"Fort McMurray is
certainly one of the cities that has undergone a large boom but the biggest
problem areas are the largest populated areas - Edmonton and Calgary," she
Despite the economic downturn, a recent report from the Royal Bank
of Canada indicates construction in Alberta isn't likely to slow
The RBC Renovations Survey found 74 per cent of Albertans plan to
renovate their homes in the next 12 months and that homeowner construction plans
rose by five percentage points - the highest in the country.
thriving construction industry is creating 23 per cent of landfill waste, Seidel
says it has managed to fly under the radar for some time.
"It's almost a
bit of a hidden waste stream," she says.
"The average person doesn't see
it because it's in unique places, only on construction sites and then it goes to
construction landfills. Most people have no idea."
But it was public
concern over construction waste that, in part, got the Alberta Construction
Association (ACA) on board with the government's plans.
executive director of ACA, says contractors have been receiving more and more
requests from owners to recycle construction waste.
"It's a need driven
by society's expectations," he says.
Indeed, many materials can be
"Concrete, brick, stone. Most of this can be reused on new
roads," Gibson says.
He says there are also well-developed markets for
steel and copper recycling, as well as drywall, which can go back into the
manufacturing of new drywall or used as compost in soil.
Wood is also
recyclable, although demand fluctuates with the market.
"Right now with
the reduction in the U.S. housing market? the demand for lumber has gone down,"
Since the government announced its plans, Gibson has already
started to see more interest and investment in the recycling industry, where he
says environmental groups could also make a profit.
"There is already one
fellow setting up a transfer station down in southern Alberta. That's the kind
of experimentation that's going on."
Alberta would be the only Canadian
province to make construction and demolition waste recycling mandatory, although
not everyone may be pleased by it.
Michael Nyikes, director of Safety and
Technical Services for the Canadian Home Builders' Association of Alberta, says
forcing the industry to recycle could pose problems for less developed parts of
"In some of the smaller, rural communities, they don't have
the same facilities or infrastructure to handle these materials. It's more
prevalent in larger centers," he says.
Still, Nyikes sees the need for
such a program.
"The average resident single family house puts
approximately four to seven tonnes of construction waste into the landfill
through the construction process," he says.
By diverting 50 per cent of
construction and demolitions debris, Alberta Environment estimates the program
would reduce the amount of waste it sends to landfills by 130 kilograms for each
Albertan, every year.
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