Nfld. & Labrador

Decline in St. John's curbside recycling prompts awareness campaign

The City of St. John's will be conducting audits on garbage sent to the landfill to determine how many recyclable materials are being tossed in the trash.

City to audit trash to determine how many recyclables getting tossed in the bin

The City of St. John's is launching an awareness campaign to get people back into the habit of recycling at the curb. (CBC)

The City of St. John's has started a year-long campaign to get people back into the habit of recycling, after noticing a significant decline in the amount of people bringing blue bags to the curb.

"Over the past year we have noted a marked decline in curbside recycling — from 3,480 tons in 2013 to 3,062 tons 2014," said Coun. Jonathan Galgay in a statement.

"This trend continues into 2015."

In an interview with CBC's On The Go Thursday, Galgay said the city doesn't know why numbers are down, but speculates some residents are donating recyclables to various fundraising efforts in the community. 

Others simply aren't separating recyclables from the rest of their household garbage, he said, and that doesn't bode well for the St. John's landfill.

A city-wide recycling program was launched in St. John's in October 2010, but it doesn't include glass or organic waste. (CBC )

Galgay's instructed city staff to conduct garbage audits in an effort to determine how big of a problem this is. 

"Once it's picked up and it's brought to the landfill and it's placed there, we will actually open the garbage [and] we will do an audit on the contents within the bag to determine what type of behaviour it's having on our landfill," he said. 

Galgay hopes to have the results of that audit in the coming weeks. 

To get people to bag up their recyclable materials, the city will be launching a campaign to educate residents and get them back into the habit of sorting their recyclables and bringing them to the curb every two weeks.

That includes launching a 12-week "family recycling challenge" where households that register can record how much they're recycling and win weekly prices, with a grand prize of a $1,500 gift card from RONA.

 "Our goal is to remind residents how important and easy it is to recycle at home," said Galgay.

"To gain back the people who once did but for some reason no longer recycle at the curb."

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