Recycling

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Recycling

Congratulations, Whitehorse! Our hard work is starting to pay off! As we divert more recyclable and compostable material, the amount of waste landfilled goes down. Between 2000 and 2013 we landfilled an average of 83% of our waste. In 2015, that went down to 65%. Things have been turning around since the Solid Waste Action Plan was adopted in 2013. Both recycling and organic waste diversion are trending up (in 2015 we reached 35% diversion), while landfilled waste is starting to trend downwards. 

In 2014 we broke a record diverting 3500 tonnes of paper, cardboard, plastics, tin and glass! Better yet in 2015 we surpassed the 2014 record diverting 4400 tonnes of mixed recyclables!

Recyclable Material in Whitehorse

Here is a list of materials that are recyclable at Whitehorse recycling facilities. For more specific details about items try the "What Goes Where" waste app, here. 

Material Requirements Services Good to know
Cardboard

Cardboard must be separated from regular waste and compostable waste.

Food soiled cardboard goes in the green cart (ie: pizza box)

Glass is crushed and used as alternate daily cover at the landfill (it’s not valuable enough to ship south for recycling).

Beer bottles are refilled on average 12 times.

Paper No requirements, but the City appreciates residents and businesses recycling all of these materials. Paper includes newspaper, boxboard (ie: cereal and cracker boxes), coloured and white paper, shredded paper. Wrapping paper is not recyclable.
Plastics No requirements, but the City appreciates residents and businesses recycling all of these materials. Includes grocery bags, soft plastics, and hard plastics.
 Tin/Aluminum No requirements, but the City appreciates residents and businesses recycling all of these materials. Includes aluminum foil, tin cans, clean aluminum food trays
Styrofoam No requirements, but the City appreciates residents and businesses recycling all of these materials. Styrofoam is compressed into bricks, that get shipped down south for recycling. 
Glass No requirements, but the City appreciates residents and businesses recycling all of these materials. Beer bottles are refilled on average 12 times. All other glass is crushed and used as alternate daily cover at the landfill (it’s not valuable enough to ship south for recycling).
Beverage Containers No requirements, but the City appreciates residents and businesses recycling all of these materials. Non-dairy beverage containers have a recycling deposit when purchased. This deposit is refunded at the time of dropping off your refundable materials to either Raven Recycling or P&M Recycling. 

Recycling in the yukon

The recycling system in the Yukon is currently unsustainable, lacking the funds and mechanisms to support the recycling of ALL materials in continuously fluctuating commodity markets. Why? The simple answer is that there is no dedicated funding to pay for recycling. 

In many Canadian provinces, legislation has mandated that industry help pay for recycling. It makes sense after all - these are the producers creating the waste. This is also known as "Extended Producer Responsibility", or EPR. In Ontario, the birthplace of the blue box, a producer responsibility organization pays for half of the costs of curbside recycling and municipalities cover the rest. This is typically done with utility fees or taxes.

There is no EPR in Yukon. Instead, there is limited stewardship - the territorial government administers two programs that require consumers to pay an additional fee up front on most beverage containers and some tires. These fees pay for the materials to be recycled.

Both processors in Yukon (Raven Recycling and P & M Recycling) have been offering recycling services without core funding (i.e. through utility fees or taxes) for many years. This has been possible through cross-subsidization: the money they receive to pay for the recycling of beverage containers has been stretched year over year to help pay for the ever increasing volumes of non-refundable materials (paper, plastic containers, plastic bags, tin cans, glass, etc.). For 2014 in Whitehorse, these non-refundable materials comprised 90% of what the recycling processors handled!

There are two things wrong with this system. First, beverage companies are shouldering the burden for the recycling of materials that have nothing to do with their businesses. This is neither fair nor financially accountable.  Second, there is no law or safeguard to ensure that non-refundable materials are recycled. The current system relies on the goodwill of the recycling processors to use what money they receive from beverage containers to help pay for the hundreds of tonnes of everything else.

To help close the gap, the City of Whitehorse pays diversion credits of $75/tonne (up to a total of $150,000) to the recycling processors. This money comes from waste-related tipping fees and utility fees—not taxes. The good news is that Whitehorse citizens are recycling more than ever before, helping us towards our 50% diversion goal. The bad news is that the funding cap for diversion credits means that when tonnage exceeds the maximum eligible amount, the recycling processors do not receive $75/tonne.

A dedicated source of funding is needed to handle the ever increasing volume of non-refundable, recyclable material in Whitehorse. A blue box service would be full cost recovery, which means all costs associated—collection, processing, transportation and administration—would be covered fully by the users. This would ensure a long term and stable funding source to ensure recycling continues. Many City utilities—water, sewer and waste—are user-pay and full cost recovery, and recycling should be no different.

We continue to work on bringing a residential blue box service to eligible households in Whitehorse. Stay tuned!

Extended Producer responsibility (Epr)

The growing trend in waste management financing is to move the costs of disposal from the end of life (via tipping and utility fees) to the purchase price, where consumers can make a choice based on the full life cycle of the product. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines EPR as “a policy approach under which producers are given a significant responsibility—financial and/or physical—for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer goods.” There are two key features of EPR policy:

  1. Shifting responsibility upstream to producers and away from municipalities; and
  2. Providing incentive to producers to take environmental considerations into the design of the product.

Nationally, the Canadian Council of Ministers for the Environment (CCME) continues to work on the expansion of EPR through the Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility.

Locally, there are no EPR programs in Yukon, although enabling legislation was passed in 2014 via amendments to the Environment Act. Yukon Government has two stewardship programs made possible by the Beverage Container Regulation (BCR) and the Designated Materials Regulation (DMR). These programs are administered by YG and not producers themselves. The more items added to YG’s current stewardship programs, and with the introduction of EPR in Yukon, the greater the ability the City has to reduce tipping and utility fees.

Waste Sorting App

Sorting your waste is easy with our new What Goes Where app. Type the name of an item into the search bar and we will give you recycling, composting, or disposal options.

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