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Online photos lead Yellowknife residents to take a hard look at cardboard recycling

Photos of a garbage truck that spilled last week are causing Yellowknife residents to take a closer look at how they recycle, though people involved in the industry say the city has come a long way in the past few years.

City of Yellowknife wants to divert 100 per cent of cardboard from the landfill in the next 7 years

One of the photos of a garbage truck that dropped its load on 57 St. last week. The photos, posted to CBC NWT's Facebook page, spurred a conversation about how the city recycles cardboard. (Michael Hugall/CBC)

Photos of a garbage truck that spilled last week are causing Yellowknife residents to take a closer look at how they recycle, though people involved in the industry say the city has come a long way in the past few years.

The photos were posted to CBC N.W.T.'s Facebook page last week. They show a truck that inadvertently dropped a load of garbage onto 57 St., and the ensuing clean-up. 

The photos show a significant amount of cardboard mixed in with the garbage, which drew the ire of commenters online.

"My first thought … 'why all the cardboard?'" said Yellowknife resident, Vivian Hansen.

"Recycling needs to be pushed harder," commented Steve Moss.

Mustafa Sarikaya said he loves to recycle. As he was breaking down cardboard boxes at one of the City's blue bin stations, Sarikaya said he was upset when he first saw the photos.  

"That's lots of paper we can reuse again," he said. "It's too sad."

Sarikaya said lots of people in Yellowknife take their recycling, like cardboard, to the city's blue bins, but there are also others who are too lazy to make the trip.

Yellowknife resident Mustafa Sarikaya said he sees a lot of recyclable items in the trash. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

"I hate to see [cardboard] in the garbage," Sarikaya said. "Whenever I go to the garbage I see lots of papers, cardboards and plastics there."

Waste manager says Yellowknife has 'come a long way' reducing waste

Kavanaugh Waste Removal Services owned the truck which inadvertently spilled its trash last week.

General Manager Peter Houweling said although the photos show a lot of cardboard in the garbage, there has been a big improvement in Yellowknife.  

"Yes that one [photo] does have a lot of cardboard but there's lots of loads that don't have any cardboard," he said.

"What we're not seeing in that photo [is] the hazardous waste … There's definitely less organics in that bin than there would have been say five to ten years ago."

Kavanaugh Waste Solutions general manager Peter Houweling said the city has made improvements to how they've recycled over the past decade. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC )

He added more than half of the City's industrial, commercial and institutional businesses have cardboard collection with his company.

That means these businesses have blue bins where they put their cardboard, then Kavanaugh takes that cardboard to the dump for them.

Houweling added new developments in Yellowknife, such as condos, are required to have three collection bins: one for garbage, one for organics, and one for cardboard.

The City of Yellowknife has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city by 30 per cent by 2025, according to its Corporate and Community Energy Plan.

The plan states the city's goal is to divert 100 per cent of the city's cardboard from the landfill in that same time.

Ecology North says if residents recycled all of their cardboard, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city by nearly 10 per cent.

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