Recycling depots across the Yukon are being asked to stop accepting non-beverage glass for recycling as of November 30, 2019.
As of November 30th, glass jars, bottles, containers and other non-refundable glass like pickle jars will no longer be accepted at recycling facilities in Whitehorse. As a result, all recycling depots outside of Whitehorse are being asked to stop accepting this glass as well. Refundable glass beverage containers (like beer, juice and liquor bottles) will remain in the Beverage Container Regulation, and must still be accepted at all depots.
We’re asking all Yukoners to safely dispose of non-beverage glass in household waste, and focus on reducing and reusing when possible.
Residents of the Yukon hamlet of Mount Lorne can not only drop off their recycling and reusable items at the local transfer station, now they can also recharge their electric vehicle.
The Mount Lorne station is the proud new owner of the territory’s first public electric vehicle charging station, and it’s completely solar powered.
Organizers hope to make the recycling centre a model for an environmentally-friendly future of the territory.
“It’s kind of like the egg before the chicken kind of thing,” said Mike Bailie, general manager of the transfer station.
“If nobody starts the infrastructure it just delays it that much longer, but now we have half of the infrastructure we need. If every community had one of these somewhere it’s just paving the way for a whole new change for our transportation system here in the Yukon.”
Even on the coldest, cloudiest days of winter, 160 solar panels on site are generating power.
Since going online in January 2017, they have produced a total of 54 megawatt hours — enough to power four and a half homes for a full year.
The panels produce almost six times more power than they use.
“That power is presently feeding back to the grid for everyone in the Yukon to benefit from,” said Al Foster, the president of the Lorne Mountain Community Association.
According to Foster, the panels produce power even with an inch of snow on them, and actually perform better in the cold, because the resistance in the wires and circuits goes down.
“In January when we had that –40 C weather out here and we had those really sunny days, these panels were producing a perfect bell curve of power during the daylight hours,” Foster said.
“A lot of people just don’t think we can produce power, but our monitoring shows we are producing power every month of the year.”
The excess energy led to the idea of installing the charging station.
The community rallied behind them. Local resident Damen Anderson offered to do the research and source the system, and he donated the time and expertise to install the charger.
The parts cost around $1,700, and were paid for by the Mount Lorne Garbage Management Society.
Owners can fully recharge their electric vehicle in about an hour.
“This one is a way for people in the community to charge here, and we could work toward putting a charger in town so that there is an ability to buy electric vehicles for use in the Yukon and in this community,” said Bailie.
Bailie said the Yukon government has been supportive so far, and he thinks Yukoners can expect a public charging station in Whitehorse within a year or two.
“The Yukon Government was instrumental in funding the solar panels that allowed all this to happen,” he said. “There’s a lot of support, but it’s a bureaucracy and it takes time.”
Bailie said people have told him they’re now thinking about buying an electric vehicle. There are currently 12 registered in the territory, according to the Motor Vehicles Office.
“Hearing that there’s a charging station, and also the vehicles that are coming out now are way more effective. They’re charging more, they’re going longer distances. It’s just … it’s just happening!”
Mike Bailie says things got noticeably busier at the Mount Lorne dump last year, and it hasn’t really let up since.
“Our staff time is being severely stretched, and it’s affecting our ability to provide the kind of services that we have in the past,” said Bailie, who manages the volunteer-run facility that’s about a half-hour drive south of Whitehorse.
He says the pressure started building when the re-use store at the Whitehorse landfill was shut down in late 2016, soon followed by the Whitehorse Salvation Army thrift store. People from the city started driving their unwanted goods to the popular re-use store at the Mount Lorne dump.
Soon enough they weren’t just bringing re-useable goods, Bailie said. They starting bringing trash, too — broken appliances, e-waste, construction material — stuff they’d have to pay to dump at the Whitehorse city landfill site.
“I think more and more people started to realize that you could not just bring their ‘free store’ stuff out, but you can also dump stuff for free,” Bailie said.
“Tipping fees in Whitehorse are driving people to peripheral dumps, where they don’t have to pay tipping fees.”
Bailie said the volunteers at the Mount Lorne dump did a survey of people bringing stuff there, and found that almost half of them were coming from Whitehorse.
He thinks it makes sense to introduce tipping fees outside of Whitehorse — but that’s up to the territorial government.
Minister on ‘dump tour’
The Yukon government operates 27 waste management facilities across the territory, and Community Services Minister John Streicker — MLA for Mount Lorne — is responsible for all but a few.
He says he’s been on a “Southern Lakes dump tour” in recent weeks, to see first-hand what’s happening at rural dumpsites near Whitehorse.
He says the Mount Lorne site is not alone.
“Whether it’s recyclables, or whether it’s the new e-waste, or whether it’s the construction and demolition waste — all of it is up, at our nearby facilities,” he said.
It’s a problem because those smaller facilities can’t always deal with the volume of waste they receive. Often, garbage and recyclables just get packed up and shipped to Whitehorse for processing.
“One of the really crazy aspects of that is sometimes people will bring things out, like drive them out from Whitehorse, bring them to the landfills that are outside of Whitehorse, and then we as a government have to bring them back,” Striecker said.
“So really, that’s not how you want your system to work.”
‘We need it to be fair’
Last spring a “ministerial committee on solid waste” issued a report with recommendations to better manage waste in the territory. One recommendation is to launch a pilot project of user fees at dumps in rural areas near Whitehorse.
It’s an idea that’s being looked at, Striecker said.
“I think the overall goal is that we need to move to more user-pay, and we need it to be fair across the whole of the territory. So that’s the notion,” Streicker said, of the committee’s recommendation.
“I’ve heard from other communities that they want to be part of that conversation, because they may want to introduce those tipping fees in their communities. So I think there’s still a conversation to be had.”
In the meantime, he says changes to the territory’s recycling system, introduced this week, might help. Whitehorse residents can now dump e-waste at Raven Recycling, and tires at the city landfill, for free. Recycling surcharges are now added to those goods when they’re bought.
Streicker also says it’s also up to Yukoners to keep working to reduce the amount of waste they produce.
“I think Yukoners are getting it … that they know this is the right thing to do, and want to do the right thing.”