What A Waste! Or NOT! What we saw at our Waste Transfer Station

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On a cool and misty first day of December, the Grade 5’s from Begbie View Elementary took a journey across town, to the outer reaches of the City of Revelstoke, to the mysterious lands of the Revelstoke Transfer Station and Landfill.   

Locked in on one aspect by the mighty Boulder and Frisby Mountains and by the swift Chickadee or Columbia River to the other, this has to be one of the most picturesque landfills going. Starting at the transfer station students saw the very ordered and well sorted areas dedicated to sorting the waste that people get rid of in Revelstoke. 

A tower of mattresses goes shoulder to shoulder with a mountain of rich, deeply healthy looking soil. The mattresses, which we learn are 95% recyclable, indeed are recycled in nearby Vernon, shredded into their component metals, foams and organic fibres. The fibres are then processed as part of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s ‘Kicking Compost’ scheme where compost is available at incredible price, made from organic waste delivered to the four transfer stations they manage.

First stop…soil and mattresses? Not what we were expecting to find at the ‘dump’

This is an important way to reduce resource and energy waste and reduce methane producing organic waste from hitting the landfill whilst creating a highly valuable product that can improve yield for gardeners and food growers – something that has been increasingly important to people here as part of food security issues resulting from the pandemic and catastrophic weather events as our climate changes and infrastructure can fail leaving the community isolated from its food supply.

Further to this, due to be opened in February 2022 is a *BRAND NEW* onsite green waste composting service. Rather than happening in Salmon Arm, 100km away, the composting will happen right on site and will reduce emissions in its creation, better serving to support our community and environment.

Graham Casselman, Waste Reduction Coordinator for the CSRD, led an engaging and educational trip around the stations, including detailed information on recycling opportunities, especially for hazardous waste and what is being done to ensure even that is recycled — including paint, batteries and oils. Did you know old styrofoam now makes picture frames?

Looking at the heap of scrap metal and wood, the message Graham shared about doing everything we can to keep materials out of landfill and being recycled, reused or repurposed hit home. The metal is compacted and transported away to be recycled. So much can be done. Better off, reduce consumption ourselves and repair or reuse materials before sending them to the transfer station!

Thank you for bringing us here to learn about this. I didn’t really think that anything that was ‘thrown away’ was recycled but so much is! That’s pretty cool.

Grade 5 Student, BVE

Crossing the road to the open face of the landfill, able to operate for another estimated 80 years (given that no huge demolition projects or other rapid changes to waste production occur) the students were in awe at what the ‘away’ place of their waste is. The curling wisps of mist surrounding trash bags pyramids of stinky rubbish was a strong reminder to limit what we use to reduce our outputs. The amount of plastic in the hill of garbage really hit home. There’s work to be done with our community for sure.

Graham and the CSRD are hard at work to reduce the amount of waste in our landfills and run a clean, tight ship. New projects are always on the go as new technology and programs become available or are searched out. One recent success is the desire to reduce baby car seat waste as they reach their expiration – it is one product that people don’t and probably shouldn’t reuse indefinitely. Now thanks to Graham’s hard work the plastics and soft materials are recycled and seat belts are shared and made into durable bags by a local Revelstoke Company. Now thats NOT a waste.

Students engaged in learning at the blue recycling bins

With the Christmas holidays on the way our group pondered the waste we create during this time. According to Zero Waste Canada estimates are that each Canadian tosses about 50 kilograms of garbage over the holidays, 25% more than the rest of the year, thanks to the purchases of 3,000 tonnes of foil, 2.6 billion Christmas cards and six millions rolls of tape. Now THAT’s a waste. We finished our trip with a thought to share our new found knowledge with friends and family, hoping to make better choices in December and well, beyond.

Thank you for sharing this day with us and helping us to think about our and our families choices this Christmas and beyond. This means a lot.

Grade 5 Student, Begbie View Elementary

Now that’s going Beyond Recycling.