By Colin Burrows
The Green Team at St. Anthony’s School and Terracycle, an international organization which upcycles garbage, have been offering Kincardine residents an option for items that are not typically accepted in other recycling streams, for six years. Terracycle has a mission to divert some of the waste that would otherwise end up in the landfill and put it to use again, instead of just throwing it out.
“They are not recycling; they call it upcycling,” said Amanda Saxton, a teacher at St. Anthony’s School. “They take an item, break it down into pellets and then create something that will have a long life, like a paving stone or a park bench or watering cans and rain barrels – items that are going to have a long lifespan rather than a single use. Rather than using new resources they are reusing waste.”
Saxton said the unique thing about the program is that the items they accept change. Terracycle is funded by corporations. For example, they had a cookie wrapper brigade which was sponsored by Mr. Christie, but they have recently stopped that program.
“It’s positive PR for companies,” she said. “They recognize that they are producing all this waste and there is something they can do about it.”
When programs end, it causes some difficulty for Amanda and the Green Team. They have to separate items that are no longer accepted, and many of them end up going to the local landfill.
She suggests people look at the current list of accepted items on the Kincardine Terracycle page.
Terracycle opened the program up to individual groups who could collect items within their communities. The Green Team at St. Anthony’s School saw it as a good opportunity for a school program.
“A lot of the waste we were accepting at the time was school lunch waste,” said Saxton, “items such as juice pouches and Lunchables trays.”
Then Terracycle started accepting more items like diaper packages and cereal bags, which were not common items at the school.
It was opened up to the community and green bins have been placed through out the municipality. Green bins are currently located at the Tiverton arena near the dumpsters, St. Anthony’s School near the dumpsters, the Kincardine Library front entrance and the Davidson Centre, outside the new entrance.
Saxton picks it up about once a month and the students in the Green Team sort it out into individual streams. Then it gets shipped to Terracycle Canada in Toronto for free. Terracycle pays approximately one cent per item to the organization.
Over the six years since the Green Team started the program, they have earned $2,249.43.
The money they receive goes to buy the collection bins and to buy plants and supplies for the Green Team’s butterfly room at St. Anthony’s. It also gets used to bring in environmentally-related guest speakers to the school.
“Other companies pick a charity and their money will be donated to them,” said Saxton. “It’s kind of a two-fold benefit.”
Currently Terracycle Kincardine accepts cigarette butts, outer milk bags, personal electronics, dishwasher tab packages, Tilda rice bags, print/toner cartridges, toothbrushes, toothpaste, single use flosses, markers and pens, Nespresso capsules, food pouches, Yves Cuisine packaging, Lunchables trays, Barilla packaging, EOS containers, Europe’s Best packaging, razors and packaging, Love Organics packaging, Febreze products and packaging, and they are now accepting old t-shirts, even it they are ripped, that they can turn into reusable shopping bags.
“The problem isn’t so much people putting things in that they think can be Terracycled,” said Saxton. “It’s when they think our bin is a garbage can and they throw in their coffee … items that leak all over everything … items like milk bags, if they do end up all sticky and gross, they end up in a landfill. That becomes a problem when people put in leaky items that contaminate things.”