15 million items recycled within 6 days at SARCAN in Sask.

SARCAN Recycling opened its locations around the province to the public on June 15.

SARCAN Recycling opened its locations around the province to the public on June 15

A recycling worker sorts through bottles and cans at the Saskatoon depot on Broadway Avenue on June 15, 2020. (Don Somers)

Since SARCAN reopened its doors to the public on June 15, more than 15 million items have been recycled, says Sean Homenick, manager of communications and culture at SARCAN Recycling. 

"It's been going quite well," Homenick said. "I think people are quite familiar with, you know, physical distancing, cleaning your hands and all the sort of things that you're seeing at SARCAN now." 

Homenick said the stations were open to bulk recyclers — such as restaurants — on June 8. However, the bulk recyclers only had about three million items, about five times less than the public. 

The total is about 18 million items recycled since June 8, Homenick said. He said about $1.8 million has been paid out so far. 

"So we're seeing very busy days," he said. "None of the six days have been our busiest day on record but all together I think it's probably shaping up to be one of the busiest weeks in our history."

Listen to SARCAN's Sean Homenick talk to Saskatchewan Weekend host Peter Mills about reopening.

People in Saskatchewan can finally recycle the massive piles of bottles and cans they've probably accumulated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sean Homenick with SARCAN Recycling join Saskatchewan Weekend host Peter Mills to explain what people need to know and how to make their trip to SARCAN as smooth as possible. 9:23

Homenick​​​​​​​ said the busiest days of the year are typically the day they reopen after Christmas break and the first day back after the August long weekend. 

He said customers have been patient while waiting in lines and following the new guidelines. At times, however, they have had to black out the "Drop and Go" system due to a high demand. 

"It was just the perfect tool for the COVID-19 response — it's low contact and you don't wait in line," he said. 

"And we've seen in Saskatoon in Regina where usage was between 2 and 4 percent of the total volume … Right now, it's sitting at 50 percent in some locations which is, like, astronomical growth."

People headed into a SARCAN Recycling depot in Regina on June 15, 2020. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Homenick​​​​​​​ said they are having trouble keeping up with the boom in popularity. He said they are shifting staff around and working to improve the workflow but occasionally shut the system down for a couple hours to manage the flow of garbage bags full of bottles. 

One reason the popularity has increased is because of Drop and Go fundraisers. Homenick said people can have a name and password for a bottle drive so when people donate their bags, the funds go directly toward that account. 

"So if you have an awesome contact list of people and supporters and volunteers that you can email and provide them with your group account information and password you don't have to drive to their house and pick up bottles," Homenick​​​​​​​ said. "You don't have to go door to door."

People lined up early at a Regina SARCAN Recycling depot. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

A change the company may keep during busy times is a recycling guide who acts as a greeter and tells people the new regulations at the doors. Homenick​​​​​​​ said during busy days, they may keep the position to help with the flow of people. 

Homenick​​​​​​​ said if people are visiting this upcoming week, he's asking them to consider if they need to right away, or if they can hold off. 

"Right now we're serving a lot of people who either really need the money or don't have the space to store stuff," he said. "If you're not in one of those … we'd love it if you could put it off a couple of weeks."

Homenick said he anticipates this upcoming week will be another busy one and appreciates peoples' patience. 

"It's been amazing to see the turnout and how happy everyone is to be at SARCAN despite the long wait," he said. 

People were lined up at the SARCAN Recycling Depot in Saskatoon on June 15, 2020. (Steve Pasqualotto/CBC)


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