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Alberta revolutionizes Alberta revolutionizes recycling yet again
Writer:Anthony Kovats - Sun Media

The tide is turning. A new provincial measure unveiled Monday is intended to dam the amount of waste entering municipal landfills and reduce that “waste stream” to a trickle.

As of June 1, milk cartons will join the ranks of pop cans andtetra packs as a recyclable, refundable commodity. Environmental Parliamentary assistant and Drayton Valley MLA Diana McQueen announced Alberta is now the first jurisdiction in the country to implement a new program allowing milk containers into a regulated deposit-refund system. As of June 1, milk and liquid cream containers are returnable at local bottle depots for a refund.

“When we did the review of beverage containers and deposit fees we also announced we would move from 5 cents to 10 cents,” said McQueen referring to containers one litre or less in size. Larger containers are worth 25 cents each. ‘At that time, we announced that dairy would be coming into the system. We worked with the Dairy Council (of Alberta). We were going to bring them in in February, but they said they needed more lead time.”

McQueen said there was no urgency and afforded the council as much time as is needed. The fully refundable deposit fee matches the deposit on similar-sized containers already existin in the deposit program.

“We’re always looking at ways to protect our environment by reducing waste. We’ve made this change to increase recycling rates for beverage containers in Alberta and to help to foster a culture of conservation.”

More than two billion such containers are sold in Alberta each year. McQueen said this adds to what she refers to as the “waste stream.”

Yet, this initiative should greatly impact that stream. The current recycling rate for plastic milk jugs is 60 per cent and a dismal 22.5 per cent for cartons. The province is being ambitious and is counting on the new program to increase the return rate to 85 per cent across the board.

McQueen is aware the province’s recycling program may not be as engaged as some other province, but she is proud of the fact communities like Edmonton have achieved global recognition for it’s efforts. As mandated in her portfolio, she is only too aware of the need to bring the entire province up to speed in recycling and minimizing waste impact and she’s geared to do it.

“This is an exciting move for Alberta,” said Ross Risvold, chairman of the Beverage Container Management Board. “Bringing milk and liquid cream containers into the deposit-refund system will help boost overall beverage container recycling rates.” He added thee decrease on the amount of container waste going into landfills will be tremendous.

But McQueen said it’s imperative that consumers remember that no container will be accepted for a refund unless it’s clearly marked. In short, dairy containers will now come with a refund tag. She suggested that once the contents of a container are depleted; take the moment to rinse it out before recycling. Crushed containers will also be accepted, but the refund tag AB DEPOSIT must always remain visible.

Of course, for the truly environmentally conscious, it doesn’t hurt to recycle dairy containers regardless of when purchased. Just be aware — no tag, no refund. “My goal as parliamentary assistant, and my mandate from the minister and the premier, is that 80 per cent of waste is going into landfills and 20 per cent is either being recycled or reused. My mandate is to flip those numbers,” enthused McQueen