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Blue bins expand beyond Riverdale

Yukon Blue Bins is growing. The recycling society, which was begun last year by brothers Graham and Fraser Lang as a way to get more people recycling conveniently, started as a pilot project in Riverdale.

Yukon Blue Bins is growing.

The recycling society, which was begun last year by brothers Graham and Fraser Lang as a way to get more people recycling conveniently, started as a pilot project in Riverdale.

Now the four-person outfit is expanding its service to other Whitehorse neighbourhoods including the Hamilton Blvd. subdivisions and Porter Creek.

“The pilot was a success. We’re at about 180 houses in Riverdale, about 80 in Porter Creek,” said Fraser Lang.

“We’re looking to expand on that over the summer, going door-to-door and maybe doing some advertising,” Lang said.

The operation is pretty straightforward. In 2012, Lang and his brother figured that, like them, many people want to recycle, but the hassle of sorting and dropping it all off is just too much - especially if you have a nice big garage to hoard it in.

In such cases, well-intended people end up with stockpiles of recyclables so massive that sorting it and dropping it at Raven Recycling becomes too daunting a task, and instead it all ends up in the landfill.

So the Langs teamed up with two friends, got themselves a cube van, and asked people to pay $20 a month for them to pick up the recycling and do the sorting for them.

There’s no limit on how much recycling a customer can leave on their curb - the Blue Bin team will take all of it.

“People like it. I was surprised by the low turnover rate with this. We’ve lost maybe 10 people so far, and five of those moved up to Porter Creek from Riverdale and re-signed up again,” Lang said.

The other five moved out of town. Once people are signed up, they see how convenient it is, and it’s hard to go back to making the weekend trip to the recycling depot yourself, Lang said.

The Blue Bins crew did its first pick-up in Granger on Tuesday, hitting about a half-dozen houses. They knocked on a couple doors, dropping off the signature blue bins and clear plastic bags, sometimes reminding people that it was drop day.

With the expansion into other neighbourhoods, Lang said he hopes the society can expand its customer base to 500 from its current 250 or so. Once they accomplish that, they can start looking at reaching the city’s remaining neighbourhoods and picking up recycling from condo buildings and commercial spaces around town.

“We just want to get ourselves on some stable residential ground first. Soon we’re going to be starting a pilot for condo buildings, giving them big blue dumpsters to toss their stuff in,” Lang said.

“People see the simplicity in it. Just toss your stuff in a clear plastic bag, leave it on the curb, and go spend your Saturday outside,” he said.

You may be surprised how much money Whitehorse residents leave sitting on their curbs. Lang said that the society pulls between $500 and $600 in refundable containers out of Riverdale every time they do a pick up, and that’s only from about 180 homes.

If they can reach the 500-client mark, Yukon Blue Bins could be pulling in between around $1,600 every second week in cans and bottles alone. That, coupled with the monthly fees, could yield monthly revenues of roughly $13,000.

They don’t keep the profits. Since the blue bin program started, the organization has been dropping its collected recyclables at P&M’s Recycling in downtown Whitehorse. They split the revenue from the refundable containers 50/50, and Yukon Blue Bins plows all its money back into its operations.

Once they reach that 500-customer target and cover their costs, any leftover profit will be donated to Whitehorse charities.

“We have the ability to take styrofoam now, which is big. We take anything recyclable. I was talking to a guy up in Porter Creek who said he can’t fill up his garbage anymore. It used to be overflowing, but now it all gets recycled,” Lang said.

“When you get down to it, about 90 per cent of everything we use is recyclable. The issue was that you had to sort all of it. With us, you don’t have to do that, so it’s way easier. We must be taking about three or four tonnes out of the landfill every month.”

Contact Jesse Winter at