A truck is parked in one of the cardboard recycling spots at Raven Recycling in Whitehorse on May 7. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Recyclers ready for reopening

Raven begins by accepting cardboard

When Raven Recycling announced May 4 it had reopened its drop-off site to cardboard only, reaction from the public was quick.

“There were people here within minutes,” executive director Joy Snyder said in a May 7 interview, adding she’s pleased to see many have held onto their recycling following the temporary closure of both P&M Recycling and Raven Recycling in March due to COVID-19.

Using fencing, the cardboard drop-off site has been set up so that only one vehicle fits into the space, thus providing for physical distancing between those dropping off their cardboard.

While many are dropping off cardboard that’s been collecting since recycling centres closed, there’s been no issues with anyone dropping off other materials, Snyder said.

The acceptance of cardboard marks the first part of a phased reopening with paper up next. That’s anticipated to be added to the drop-off option in the coming days.

As Raven gets set to reopen, Mayor Dan Curtis said the city doesn’t have plans to reinstate fees for mixed waste loads that include cardboard. The city has been permitting waste loads with cardboard and other recyclables due to the closure of recycling centres during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before anything is done to reinstate the fees, Curtis said it’s important that recycling is stable in the city, though he encourages residents to take their cardboard to Raven rather than putting it with general household waste.

Further phases to reopen Raven will follow with the recycling centre anticipating accepting donated beverage containers and “tag and bag” items of recyclables outside the depot sometime next week.

Both P&M and Raven have set a date of May 19 to reopen their bottle depots with distancing measures set to be in place.

As recyclers move closer to fully reopening, Snyder is also reviewing the results of the online survey Raven offered which closed Monday.

The survey focused on how Yukoners were dealing with recycling during the closure.

Snyder said she hasn’t been able to go through the 1,300 survey responses in detail, but 90 per cent of respondents said they are hanging onto refundables until recycling centres reopen while 68 per cent said they were storing both refundables and non-refundable recycling. Those numbers were slightly higher than what Snyder was anticipating and Snyder read of at least one creative solution for storing recyclables.

One resident said they are using a bathroom in their house to store their recycling and the bathtub is already full with refundables.

Many also noted that while they understand the reasons for closing until distancing measures and safety precautions could be put in place, they are also looking forward to having recycling centres reopen.

“A lot of them are really supportive,” Snyder said.

As residents wait for the reopening of recycling services, registration for the annual recycling club is opened.

The program allows kids ages four to 16 to collect points on the refundables they bring in between May and November. Prizes in past years have ranged from gift certificates and products at local shops to passes to places like the Canada Games Centre, Taking Hot Springs and other spots.

Snyder said there are approximately 50 who have signed up for the 2020 program, which is lower than this time in previous years, but she’s expecting that will increase as recycling centres reopen to accept refundables.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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