Growing Alberta’s Recycling Industry

Connector Spring 2016

You may or may not know by now, but the City of Calgary has a goal of diverting 70% of waste by 2025. The City has numerous strategies in place to help them achieve their goal – everything from the introduction of a Food & Yard Waste Collection program to financial incentives to landfill bans.

In 2016, the City of Calgary introduced new regulatory requirements for multi-family recycling as well as providing City landfill users with a financial incentive to divert recyclables through a differential tipping fee system that they call the “Designated Materials Rate”.

Christina Seidel, RCA Executive Director, sat down with Sean Dann from Capital Paper Recycling to chat with him about how these new City of Calgary initiatives have impacted his business so far this year. Capital Paper is one of Canada’s largest independent paper recycling companies.

RCA: Thanks for sitting down with me today. As you know, the City of Calgary introduced a recycling requirement for all multi-family properties; expanded their “Designated Materials” program to include paper and cardboard on Feb 1, 2016 and is requiring all Businesses & Organizations in Calgary to have a recycling program in place by Nov 1, 2016. Being that recycling is Capital Paper’s business, how have these initiatives impacted your business?

Capital Paper: First off, the number of phone calls and inquiries about recycling has sky rocketed since these programs were announced. This bylaw seems to be the kick in the rear that people needed to get with the program! Customers from all walks of life (office towers, property managers, home businesses, warehouses) they all want to know how Capital Paper can help them set up a recycling program that will allow them to comply with the bylaw requirements.

Multi-family customers are usually looking for someone to set up a program and pick up the recyclables at the property, so we refer them to one of the many collection companies we work with. Since late 2015, the amount of material from multi-family properties coming to Capital Paper has increased substantially. We went from only having a few of the smaller multi-family collection companies using us for drop-off processing to now servicing many small and large hauling companies.

As for the City’s “Designated Materials” program and the upcoming requirement for businesses to have recycling programs – well, what we have seen there has been an overall increase in recycling coming in from commercial businesses.

If it weren’t for the financial incentive at the landfills and the upcoming bylaw requirement for businesses to have recycling, people would simply be going about their days just like they used to and putting this stuff in their garbage bins. Business owners are now taking recycling very seriously knowing that they will be penalized if they don’t comply. And while yes, this is starting out as a financial incentive it will eventually become second nature for these businesses to recycle which we are beginning to see already.

Capital Paper offers a lot of solutions for businesses looking to recycle, from customized collection services, to processing / marketing of recyclables for other haulers, including smaller self-haulers.

Since we provide such a wide range of collection and processing options that work for both the multi-family and commercial sector, our business has definitely benefited from the changes in Calgary.

RCA: Have there been any downsides to the introduction of the new requirements in Calgary?

Capital Paper: It’s really both an upside and a downside – these new recycling requirements have resulted a huge increase in demand for single-stream recycling. We have been taking single-stream materials for over 6 years now, however, it has really been in the last 6 months that we have seen significant growth – likely associated with the implementation of the multi-family recycling requirements. Anyone servicing the multi-family sector knows that the single-stream programs are what the residents want – it is easy, convenient to use and meets the bylaw requirements.

The growth of single-stream recycling has of course impacted our operations. In the recycling world everything we accept we sell but in the case of the single stream material because it needs to be sorted and tends to have higher contamination we need to pay to move this material – we send it out to a company in BC for processing which means we need to charge the haulers that are bringing us this material and they in turn pass that cost onto their customers.

RCA: You sound very hopeful and enthusiastic about the future of recycling and waste diversion in Capital Paper’s Calgary market. What are you looking forward to most?

Capital Paper: Well, personally I am looking forward to the organics program– being who I am my recycling cart is well taken care of but I can’t wait for the green cart program so that I have something to do with my food waste. I’ve been recycling my food waste for years back in Ontario and am glad to see that Alberta is finally catching up! It is a great step forward.

But seriously, from a business standpoint we are really looking forward to the growth opportunities over the next 2 to 3 years as these programs become more established and recycling becomes second nature for all Calgarians. Capital Paper is very optimistic because there is so much opportunity in Calgary.