As more cans and bottles make their way to Yukon recycling bins, Raven Recycling is bracing for the influx.
On Wednesday, the Yukon government pledged $75,000 to help schools boost their waste-diversion programs.
Yukon wide, as garbage-burning communities revamp their waste strategies, more truckloads of recyclables will be finding their way into Whitehorse.
Already knee-deep in recyclables, Raven soon expects to break ground on a new expansion more suited to the recycle-happy Yukon, said Joy Snyder, executive director of Raven Recycling.
“We’ll be able to handle waste for a population of 50,000; we figure it should work for the next 25 years,” she said.
Even while waste is diverted from landfills, recycling won’t be taking the full brunt.
More and more, reduce, reuse and compost programs are playing their part.
Students now pack “green lunches,” shedding throwaway packaging and juice boxes and opting instead for reusable containers.
“As a parent I’ll be washing a few more Tupperware containers, but other than that, we won’t see any of that material coming into our recycling centres at all,” said Pat McInroy, owner and operator of P+M Recycling.
Some Yukon schools are toying with installing onsite worm composting; another convenient in-house solution to waste reduction.
School programs are particularly important, because a recycling ethic is instilled in Yukoners from a young age.
There’s a trickle down effect, said Education Minister Patrick Rouble.
“We were talking with a couple members of the student government, and they were the first to admit that they would learn something here in school, whether it’s turning off your lights or reducing your garbage, and then they take that home and share it with their parents,” said Rouble.
Schools have already shown stellar results in garbage diversion.
Golden Horn Elementary now diverts 90 per cent of its waste from city landfills, according to a weekly garbage weigh-in.
The expansion comes at a curious time for the non-profit recycling centre.
Stripped of revenue from the economic crisis, the organization is slowly finding its feet in the world of government grants.
“We had businesses like the bottle depot, and with the money we made from that we funded recycling for the whole of Yukon,” said Snyder. That all changed in October, when plummeting commodity prices sliced apart their income streams, and made government partnerships an urgent survival need.
Of course, Raven needs government support as much as the government needs Raven to keep recycling.
With $500,000 a year going towards in-house government recycling programs, it makes sense to keeps Raven’s lights on.
Raven needs to be kept “financially viable,” said Taylor.
“(Government help) is the standard in every other jurisdiction, so it’s not a crazy thing to get,” said Snyder.
The economic crisis has been a potent opportunity for the centre, allowing long-held plans to finally move forward, she said.
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