2020 Rs of Excellence Winners and New Board Members Announced

For the first time in its 30-year history, the Recycling Council of Alberta held is Annual General Meeting online. The meeting on October 14 was attended virtually by 60 members and supporters and organizations were recognized for their leadership in waste reduction at the annual Rs of Excellence ceremonies. The RCA also welcomed four new Board members for a three-year term.

2020 Rs of Excellence Winners:

Municipal Program Award – Vulcan & District Waste Commission

The Vulcan & District Waste Commission pesticide container collection site, managed by Dick Ellis, is one of the largest locations in Alberta and went from being one of the most challenging sites in 2017 to one of the best sites by 2019. Dick and his team put a tremendous amount of time and effort in upgrading the on-site infrastructure, providing increased oversight of the collection area, and improved engagement and communication with participating farmers. The changes have helped Vulcan County improve the health and safety on site, and increase their collection volumes at the site by nearly 30% since 2016, making Vulcan the 3rd largest collection site in the province.

Waste Reduction Leadership Award – Calgary Co-op

When the pandemic hit this spring, grocery stores quickly moved to prohibit customers bringing their reusable bags into the store. However, Calgary Co-op stuck to their waste reductions principles, allowing the use of reusable bags to continue long after others had eliminated the practice. In order to ensure protection of their employees and customers, and adherence to Alberta Health Services rules, Calgary Co-op did discontinue customer reusable bags in their system for a very short period while upgrading their grocery bagging operations. But, they immediately followed by again supporting the practice of customers using their own bags. This continues, while many other stores still do not accept reusable bags.

Waste Reduction Leadership Award – Sobeys

In support of the announcement in July 2019 that Sobeys would no longer provide plastic bags at checkout, a project plan was immediately developed, and a Working Committee was created with stakeholders from across the business. On January 31st, 2020, 255 Sobeys stores across the country said goodbye to single-use plastic bags at the checkout counter, the first national grocer to take this bold step. During the pandemic, they made the decision to stick with the reusable bag system based on public health information.

Eliminating and removing 225 million grocery bags from circulation annually was the first step in Sobeys ongoing efforts to reduce single-use plastic, but it doesn’t stop there. On October 1 2020, they also removed single-use plastic checkout bags from all stores in Atlantic Canada and IGA stores in Quebec. The grocery chain continues to work with cross-functional internal teams and valued community and industry partners, to determine new and innovative solutions to tackle the plastic waste issue.

RCA 2020 Board Additions

New RCA Board members include Isabelle Couture, Tammy Burke, Andrew Sorenson and Mark Parker. Each member brings a unique background and skillset and we are excited as they join the organization’s outstanding leadership team. https://recycle.ab.ca/about/board-of-directors/

  • Mayor Tammy Burke is a long-term resident of Rocky Mountain House. She began her involvement in Municipal Government in 2013 when she was elected to a term as a Town Councillor. In 2017 Ms. Burke was elected as Mayor for the Town of Rocky Mountain House, a position she currently holds, along with seats on many boards and committees both locally and provincially. Reducing the amount of solid waste heading to landfill is critical; but municipalities can’t do it alone. That’s why the Town of Rocky Mountain House Council, under Mayor Burke’s leadership, successfully supported a resolution for AUMA to lobby the provincial government to introduce Extended Producer Responsibility regulations in Alberta. This is the mechanism by which the burden of recycling paper and packaging lies squarely with producers.
  • Isabelle Couture has more than 10 years of experience working in the public, private and non-profit sectors leading successful programs that promote a stronger, circular economy. Isabelle’s passion for sustainability and evidence-based policy led her to pursue graduate studies in public administration at the University of Victoria and volunteer with several environmental groups across Canada before launching in 2017 Plastic-Free YYC, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing waste. In this role, she has collaborated with the RCA on a number of initiatives, including the delivery of a Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy workshop in 2019. Isabelle is passionate about building a circular economy in Canada and increasing waste reduction opportunities. She recently joined the Smart Prosperity Institute as their Manager of Knowledge and Partnerships where she will support SPI’s portfolios, including their Circular Economy work. Isabelle has received several awards for her sustainability work, such as the 2019 Rs of Excellence Award for Grassroots Group. She was also named one of Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2020.
  • Mark Parker is a consulting engineer with over 10 years of experience in solid waste. Mark has worked on projects in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Ontario covering a broad range of practice areas with particular emphasis on regulatory support, facility planning, design and construction.  He currently leads Morrison Hershfield’s waste practice in the prairie provinces and is the Leduc & District Regional Waste Management Authority’s Technical Advisor. Mark’s experience spans multiple aspects of solid waste engineering and planning for public, private, and First Nations clients and is highlighted by experience in both traditional and alternative technologies (i.e. waste-to-energy). His landfill experience includes siting, financial liability, facility design, closure and post-closure support, regulatory approval submissions, and over 20 construction projects.  In additional to engineering design Mark has assisted clients with solid waste feasibility studies and waste management master plans. Mark lives in Edmonton with his wife and two young daughters.  
  • Andrew Sorenson is a communications specialist for Alberta’s newest municipally controlled corporation Claystone Waste, which operates one of the largest landfills in western Canada. Part of his mandate, in addition to communications, includes working on projects and community aspects. This includes helping to plan and supervise waste-diversion and recycling programs as well as transfer stations.  Previously, Andrew worked in film and television, both in creative and news broadcasting and the oil and gas sector. He trained at the Vancouver Film School and took several years of political studies at the University of Saskatchewan. Andrew lives on his family’s farm in east-central Alberta with his wife and four children, where he spends his free time working on his small mixed operation.