New recycling program takes off

The electrical appliances may be small, but their impact is “big” ...

The electrical appliances may be small, but their impact is “big” as far as the KUTE recycling depot is concerned, says outgoing manager Colin Skog.

Skog was talking about the small electrical appliances recycling program which kicked into gear October.

That program covers a huge range of products including wall clocks, irons, steamers, food scales, microwaves, can openers, coffee makers, blenders and the like, all manner of floor cleaners, and hairdryers and shavers, to mention – literally – just a few.

“It really adds to our existing electronic recycling program such as computers and accessories plus TVs and stereos,” he pointed out.

Interviewed just two weeks into the program, Skog reported, “It’s working our great – this is big.” He said the big thing about the program is that it covers the kinds of small appliances that people seem to go through a lot.

For example, “How long does a coffee pot last these days.”

Now those items can be recycled instead of ending up in the dump.

Another thing Skog likes about it is that all the collected items go to Teck Cominco in Trail, BC. “So it’s not going overseas, that’s the best thing about it.”

Noting Teck Cominco’s recycling facility is a major operation, he added, “They call it urban mining.”

The program is funded through environmental fees charged at the time of purchase with that cost ranging up to $10 for a larger, countertop microwave. While those may not be too popular with consumers, the fee revenue makes it is possible for depots to accept them.

That, Skog explains, is because KUTE gets paid $200/tonne for electronics collected which, compared to what it gets for cardboard and paper, is “phenomenal”.

Plus the depot is supplied with the bags and pallets at no charge and does not have to pay to have them trucked to the larger recycling centre.

That said, it is not easy money.

Skog explained that preparing a mixed pallet of TVs and monitors can be very time consuming because of the different sizes and shapes involved. “It’s building a puzzle every day, a very large puzzle.”

The accessories – mouses, keyboards, printers, speakers, even the wires they cut off the monitors – have to be placed in bags which are handled by Encorp.

Meanwhile, vacuum cleaners, coffee pots and the like have to go on yet another pallet.

“It’s a lot of extra work,” Skog said. However, by taking on all these different programs KUTE had been able to hire a third person.

And the new revenues from electronics, particularly TVs and the like,  were pushing the depot into the black – the depot had shipped out more than 100 pallets since the end of June.

Fourteen of those had gone out just two weeks before and they were already putting together the eighth pallet of the next shipment, he added.

Now, Skog pointed out, electronics recycling covered everything from tooth brushes to big flat screen TVs.

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Two days after this interview, Skog bade farewell to KUTE and Kitimat as he and his wife headed South and into retirement.

“It’s a good little place,” he said of the depot, and admitted there was some sense of regret in having to leave it.

“I like it because the community is really involved in it.”

Asked how much things had changed over the 10 years he’d been there, Skog recalled that when he first arrived all they handled was cardboard and paper. “It was very quiet. Now I’m here seven days a week.”

And one of the saddest things had been having to end the cardboard pick up service this past summer because the truck they were using had become too expensive to run.

 

“It’s getting old,” he explained. “If we had a major breakdown, it would kill us.”