Where Does Our Waste Go?

Posted on

When you throw something in the trash, recycling, or out the window, do you know where it goes, how long it takes to break down or be turned into something else? Does recycling actually make a difference?

The Grade 4 – 7 class from Martin Morigeau in Canal Flats headed to Cranbrook to learn the answers to these questions by touring three facilities with representatives from the RDEK.

First stop was the Materials Recovery Facility where the contents of our local yellow recycling bins all get sent to. There was a large pile of recycling to be sorted through, though we were told it can often be much bigger.








Students learned that the sorting process is completed by a mixture of machine and hard-working people. All day long the sorters pull out materials and objects that are not recyclable. So imagine that if everyone followed the rules and put only approved items in the yellow bins how much easier this sorting job would be!








Second stop was the processing plant that handles ALL of the bottles, cans, tetra packs and wine bottles from both the East and West Kootenays! That’s a ton of processing! At this plant, students watched how bottles and cans are sorted to be re-used – such as glass beer bottles; or crushed into cubes to be recycled – such as plastic bottles and aluminum cans.

Last stop was the landfill, where students were amazed by all of the eagles circling overhead! Students also learned that the landfill doesn’t just fill land, the people working there try very hard to divert many items from filling up the land. These include items such as scrap metal, wood pallets and other wood products, garden waste, tires, shingles, and mattresses. However, as we watched a truck drop off a load and start to get squished into the land, we did notice many things that could have been recycled.

In conclusion, students learned that there are many ways to divert items from simply heading to the landfill. Because people have been recycling, reusing, reducing, and composting, the lifespan of the landfill is almost the same as when it was started 20 years ago. As we are able to recycle an increasing variety of items, our landfills will fill up slower and less land will be needed for our garbage. Thus reducing, reusing, and recycling definitely makes a difference! Check out the latest RecycleBC guide, which as of June 13th rolls out a huge number of new products that can be recycled at the Columbia Valley Landfill.


Thank you to the RDEK for touring us around the various facilities.