Zero Waste?

 

Zero-waste. We hear this a lot, but what does it mean? Is it as simple as it sounds? Is it really possible for humans to produce zero waste?

Zero-waste is a goal or philosophy that strives to mimic the way that resources are used in nature. It is about redesigning processes so that nothing is sent to a landfill or incinerated. An essential and often overlooked aspect of zero-waste is the importance of community connection. A zero-waste facility, for example, may have a difficult time achieving their goal if there is no end market for their recyclables; or if the excess waste or pollution at the source does not design processes initially to be zero-waste.

In 2015, The City of Edmonton’s mayor spoke about a pilot project in the city using wood fibres in a zero-waste or ‘closed loop’ method:

“The production plant uses wood fibers over and over, so you can stop cutting down trees. You use your paper, put it in the recycling bin and close the loop. It goes back to the plant, it gets processed, value gets added through chemistry. It’s building this economic cluster and looking at municipal waste as a resource, rather than just digging holes in the ground to bury it."

Calgary also has zero-waste ambitions. One milestone achievement is the Green Cart Food and Yard Waste Program that will be launched mid-2017. The green cart will be for compostable materials such as, fruits and vegetables, cooking oil, breads, eggs, leaves, grass, dairy products, nuts, meat, paper towels, and paper plates, just to name a few... One interesting, and perhaps less known material that can also be put to compost, according to the City, is pet waste. The City of Calgary informs us that it must be placed in a certified compostable bag, but that there are no health or safety issues with putting pet waste in the green cart. During the composting process the material will reach and maintain temperatures of at least 55 degrees Celsius - get ready Calgary, it’s going to be a hot one!

(Image from Calgary Herald)

(Image from Calgary Herald)

Currently, without this composting program, the organic materials we waste are sitting in our city landfills. Over time, they are broken down and produce methane gas; a greenhouse gas, as it traps heat in the atmosphere. Methane gas (CH4) has a global warming potential 21 times that of carbon dioxide (CO2); meaning that it much more efficient at trapping radiation than CO2. Therefore, a composting and yard waste program is one more step that Calgary can take to ensure that our air is cleaner and our landfills are used more appropriately.

Calgarians are known for their hard work, intelligence, and resilience; being smarter with our waste is one way we are showing Canada that we care about the health of our environment and ourselves.

Are you ready to help Calgary move towards zero waste?

 

COFFEE CUPS AND THE BINNERS’ PROJECT: A REVOLUTION

 
Binners lining up to exchange coffee cups for refund at the Coffee Cup Revolution in Vancouver last October. 

Binners lining up to exchange coffee cups for refund at the Coffee Cup Revolution in Vancouver last October. 

The Binners’ Project is a non-profit organization in Vancouver that has been active since 2014 which aims to work with the bottle picking community through a number of programs such as community building, public awareness, and several pilot projects, such as the Binners’ Hook.

Yearly, the Binners’ Project holds a coffee cup revolution event to raise awareness on waste reduction. The last event, held on October 24, 2016, invited ‘binners’ (i.e. informal recyclers/bottle pickers) to collect and redeem paper coffee cups for 5-cents. The result was pretty astounding, word had been spread about this event and 49,000 cups were collected in as little as 4 hours! According to the Binners’ Project, holding this yearly event helps put a spotlight on waste management and recycling as half a million trees each year are used to create paper cups in Canada.

Simon Fraser University estimated that 1.6 Billion single use coffee cups, equating to 350,000 trees and 400 million gallons of water end up in Canadian landfills each year. The Binners’ Project believes that IF coffee cups were refundable the streets would be cleaner, less waste would end up in our landfills, and this would further economic opportunities available in the community.

Kate (pictured here) and Jessi attended the Coffee Cup Revolution in Vancouver last October and participated in the world cafe.

Kate (pictured here) and Jessi attended the Coffee Cup Revolution in Vancouver last October and participated in the world cafe.

CALGARY PAPER CUP FACTS

  • According to Green Calgary, Calgarians use an estimated 62 million single use paper cups each year!
  • In 2014, Alberta generated almost double the amount of waste of British Colombia.
  • As of 2016, the City of Calgary recycles paper coffee cups and paper sleeves.
  • In Calgary, plastic drink lids must be thrown into the garbage as they are too small to be captured by the city’s recycling process system. Plastic takes on average 450 years to degrade (get smaller and smaller over time), some types as long as 1000 years; plastic is not biodegradable.
  • What happens to the coffee cups in Calgary after they are recycled? New technologies have allowed paper pulp processors to be able to separate the polycoat lining from the paper fibres within coffee cups. The cups and other polycoated papers are first shredded and enter a 'hydropulper', which agitates the material in a water bath to separate and then filter the layers. This allows the paper fibres to be used to make new paper products such as cereal boxes, egg cartons and more.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could avoid this?

Wouldn't it be nice if we could avoid this?

 

2017 Calgary Can AGM

 

We held our 2017 AGM on Saturday, January 7 and some of the highlights included acknowledging 2016 accomplishments, re-focussing our 2017 plans, volunteer appreciation and the confirmation of our 2017 Board of Directors!

CALGARY CAN 2017 BOARD OF DIRECTORS

We are excited to work with this committed and passionate Board of Directors in 2017:

  • Chris Lake (Director)
  • Kaitlyn Hill (Secretary)
  • Kate Letizia (President)
  • Nancy Hansen (Director)
  • Natalie Andrijancic (Treasurer)
  • Pat Letizia (Director)
  • Randy Pages (Director)*
  • Sarah Winstanley (Director)*
  • Seth Leon (Director)

* New Board Member

Calgary Can Board 2016: Left to Right - Seth Leon, Nancy Hansen, Sarah Winstanley, Kate Letizia, Chris Lake, Kaitlyn Hill, Pat Letizia; Front - Randy Pages; Missing: Natalie Andrijancic

Stay tuned for more Calgary Can updates and Happy New Year!