Calgary Stampede ramps up waste diversion with interactive stations

This year the Calgary Stampede is teaming up with a local company to help cut down on waste heading to the landfill.

DIG helps annual event send less garbage to local landfills

A volunteer tosses some recycling into a bin on the Stampede grounds. This is the first year for interactive waste stations, which is a concept inspired by the Calgary Folk Fest. (CBC)

This year the Calgary Stampede is teaming up with a local company to help cut down on waste heading to the landfill.

Recycling and composting has been seen on the grounds before, but this is the first time there has been interactive stations set up for visitors to do it themselves.

Volunteers involved with DIG (Do It Green) are available at four stations to help people sort their hotdogs from plastic cups.

"Typically people roll it into a ball or put it into a cup and throw it into one bin and so we're getting in front of their faces and saying, 'Hey, let me help you with that, I can divert some of that away from the landfill,'" said DIG president and co-founder Leor Rotchild.

"So we get them to literally remove the lid, put that in one bin, and pour out the lemons or other food waste into the compost bin."

His company has been helped divert organic waste and recycling from garbage bins at the Calgary Folk Music Festival in the past. 

Last year Rotchild quit his job in the oil industry to devote more time to the project.

Striving to reduce environmental footprint

"The Calgary Stampede can see up to a million people and it's really exciting for us to be a part of making the experience one where people walk away thinking Calgary is really doing some progressive things to minimize its environmental footprint," said Rotchild. 

The practice seems to be getting a good reception at the grounds.

"It was fantastic. I walked over with all my garbage and that nice lady looked at all my garbage and figured out what could be recycled and what couldn't," said Stampede goer Rachel Swendseid.

"I no idea the top of Slurpee cups could be recycled. And then she even showed me where I could refill my non-reusable water bottle." 

Dhawal Shah was also happy for the help during his Stampede visit.

"That's a really good experience actually. I never [knew] it was going to be separated like this actually because we all the time think garbage is garbage."

The bottles recycled in the program go back to the Young Canadians program. DIG also works with food vendors to help compost food waste.

The waste is weighed every night so the Stampede will know exactly how much garbage has been diverted.

Last year 500 tonnes of waste went to the landfill from the Stampede. If the project works out, DIG hopes to set up more stations at the Stampede next year.


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