KUTE offered money towards new baler

New baler will improve operations at Kitimat's non-profit recycling depot.

Kitimat Understanding the Environment (KUTE), working under their new board of directors for less than half a year, received a $25,000 financial grant from the District of Kitimat to go towards the purchase of a new baler at their depot on Railway Avenue.

KUTE Vice President Michelle Martins says that the planned purchase of a new baler will increase not only the rate which the depot employees can bale paper and cardboard but will also increase their ability to process other materials.

She said their limitations were a reason KUTE didn’t pursue a contract with Multi-Material BC last year, a contract which covers an assortment of paper and packaging materials and the contract for which went to the Kitimat Bottle Depot.

Other materials they could process include tin cans and styrofoam. Styrofoam itself would be very valuable to KUTE, she says, because that’s a material they could potentially make a profit on recycling.

While they make money off of paper and cardboard, it’s not enough to cover the expenses of processing it.

Martins said everyone benefits if they can increase their own sustainability if even a bit.

“If we can have an alternative source of income where the city doesn’t have to subsidize us as much that’s great for us, it’s great for the city as well,” she said.

A new baler will also reduce the employee hours to do that work, which lets them work on other things. Martins said baling right now is quite “tedious and time consuming.”

They’ve been looking at their books to sort out possible ways they can reduce how much of the $25,000 they even end up taking from the District’s offer.

The baler itself they’re looking to buy is about $95,000, and is a used unit from the United States.

KUTE will also keep looking for other fundraising opportunities to pay for the baler as well.

She said the District seemed keen to support them as, from her perspective, it seems they want to take a responsibility as they have set policies about no cardboard going to the landfill.

But Martins also notes that a large per cent of cardboard comes from industrial sources.

There was a discussion at the October 19 council meeting to bump up the funding provided even further to $55,000, however the two supporters of that boost, Edwin Empinado and Mary Murphy, were outnumbered to the remainder of the council.

Rob Goffinet was excused on a conflict of interest during the discussion as he has relatives involved with or working for KUTE.