Curbside recycling is a popular topic in Drumheller. New residents from larger cities might not understand why recycling in Town comprises of driving to a green recycling container and manually sorting, but Tammy Nygaard, operations manager at the Drumheller & District Regional Landfill said there's a simple reason why.
"We don't have the infrastructure. If you go into the City of Calgary's MRF (materials recovery facility), they've got multi-million dollar facilities where they've got conveyor belts and they've got blowers and they've got magnets. And then, at the end of it, they've got a bunch of sorters sorting off all the rest of it. We don't have that type of infrastructure. You're talking millions of dollars."
So, does it just come down to dollars and cents? Not so, said Nygaard. Drumheller's manual sorting system actually produces better results than found in some cities.
"What we do here is a manual sort," explained Nygaard. "It's very labour-intensive, but you get a very good quality end product. And, once you get that good quality end product, you have a market to sell to."
Nygaard explained that recyclers are becoming more stringent about the quality of product purchased, allowing only a small fraction of contamination per shipment.
"Glass: they just want glass jars. They don't want windows. They don't want light bulbs. They don't want china. They don't want plate glass," elaborated Nygaard. "That can damage their equipment, block up their equipment and makes their end product not sellable."
As an example, Nygaard pointed out the case of Vitreous Glass, which stopped accepting material from Airdrie because it was too dirty to process.