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Raven Recycling takes two leaps forward

Raven Recycling is very close to attaining two new goals: to prevent people from throwing out Styrofoam and to make it easier for residents without cars to recycle.

Raven Recycling is very close to attaining two new goals: to prevent people from throwing out Styrofoam and to make it easier for residents without cars to recycle.

In keeping with its namesake, it’s achieving this by recycling and reusing.

Raven plans to buy a used Styrofoam densifying machine from Mississippi. It will be the first time the territory will be able to recycle Styrofoam, said Danny Lewis, the non-profit’s education co-ordinator.

The group has been brainstorming ways to reduce Styrofoam waste for a few years. When the city decided in November to reduce landfill waste by 50 per cent by 2015, the municipality consulted the non-profit and their goals aligned.

Considering that the plastic, toxic material makes up a third of North America’s garbage, Styrofoam was the “lowest hanging fruit,” Lewis said.

The machine will densify Styrofoam, making it 50 times smaller that its original size, which will allow the group to send the shrunken material to a Vancouver facility that recycles Styrofoam.

The group made an offer to a broker who’s selling the machine and will find out by the end of the week if it has been accepted.

The non-profit was going to buy a brand-new densifying machine until they found the second-hand one. In November, they plotted ways to fundraise $50,000 to purchase a brand new machine.

With a municipal grant of $18,500 and a “large chunk” from the Beaver Creek recycling centre, the group set a goal of $10,000 to buy a machine, Lewis said.

They’ve now reached 73 per cent of that goal because of careful planning, he said.

They invested in radio and newspaper call-outs for donations in May. “That was as much we could afford. As a non-profit we have to be very careful where we spend our money,” Lewis said.

The public responded by making donations at their facility when they dropped off items.

They took another calculated risk by refurbishing their old recycling bins and repurposing them as residential drop-off bins.

The non-profit installed bins at Kontiki Apartments in Riverdale, the Yukon College residence and Mountain View Estates in the last two weeks. The pilot project bins are divided in two: one to collect paper, the other for plastic and tins.

The bins were the ones the group used before switching to a bunker system at the depot in July last year. Naturally, the group didn’t throw away the bins.

“We baffled (the bins), put a step on them, and painted them up nice. Then we decked them and put them out for multi-use family apartments,” said Ralph Charlton, who handles operations.

The non-profit installed the bins because of popular demand. For years, residents complained to Raven Recycling about the inconvenience of having to drop off their items at the facility, Charlton said.

Anne Pittens, the Kontiki Apartments’ manager, called the facility looking for ways to reduce their garbage collection, Charlton said. Her apartment building was the first place the old bins found a new life.

It’s free to install the bins, but it will cost $30 to collect the bins once they’re full.

“We sort of bit the bullet. We hope that the money we spent refurbishing them we would recoup,” Charlton said.

They might break even soon enough. Since installing the bins, the group has been receiving more calls from apartment and condominium managers interested in the bins.

Lewis estimates that by spring they will know whether to keep the pilot project running or not.

But profiting from the project is not of key concern to the group. “Getting more out of the landfill - that is our ultimate goal.”

Contact Krystle Alarcon at