September 29, 2020
Why has Raven Recycling stopped taking glass and styrofoam?
Over the last couple of years Raven has stopped taking a couple of products: glass in 2019 and styrofoam after reopening in response to COVID-19 in May. We stopped taking glass because there has never been a market for glass in the Yukon. We stopped taking styrofoam because the commodity markets for it completely dried up.
These materials are resources and Raven does not believe they should go into the landfill. Please rest assured that the decisions we make about the materials we don’t accept are not easy, but they are necessary in order for Raven to continue to operate and pay our staff.
On the topic of glass, the decision in 2019 to stop taking glass was made between all the community recycling depots in the Yukon, including P&M Recycling. Like other jurisdictions that are not located within a 500-hundred mile radius to a glass recycling facility, Yukon’s glass has never been shipped outside for recycling. The glass ended up in the City of Whitehorse landfill as cover material to keep the litter down.
Depots have explored selling crushed glass for construction material in walking paths, asphalt additives, sand-blasting material, or as products for local businesses. So far, none of these initiatives have been economically viable in the long term.
It does help if you clean and smash your non-refundable glass containers so that it takes up less space in the landfill.
We recently stopped taking styrofoam because it is no longer accepted by southern recyclers. There is no market. Once the price of virgin oil dropped, the plastics industry quit using recycled material. The markets are always variable and with every material we accept, we are always competing with virgin sources that are usually heavily subsidized by governments.
We have tried a couple of ways to deal with styrofoam, including making small bricks with extruder and larger bricks with a baler. Unfortunately, neither product has found a local market. No one wants to see styrofoam in the landfill, and truly the best option is having no styrofoam produced in the first place.
Raven Recycling Society is a non-profit social enterprise. This means we operate much like a business, but put all profits back into achieving our goal of Zero Waste. We are separate from all levels of government and do not receive core government funding. Raven is governed by a volunteer board of directors, and we provide roughly 30 well-paid non-government jobs.
It costs money to collect, sort, store, and ship recyclable materials back to market. The Beverage Container Regulations have provided certainty for a small portion of the materials we collect. The refund setup allows us to get those materials recycled . Raven continues to lobby governments to include more materials in the waste management system. This would not only provide more certainty for the recycling industry, but be a definite win for the environment!
Joy Snyder, ED of Raven Recycling
(Originally published in the fall 2020 issue of Walk Softly)
June 4, 2020 – Survey Results
While we were closed, we surveyed the public in order to gauge the impact of recycling services in the Yukon. We had an overwhelming response, and here’s some of what you said:
June 1, 2020
Scrap Metals is now open Monday to Friday 8:30 to 4 (closed for lunch 12-1).
We are now accepting non-ferrous and ferrous metals, weekdays only. See the Metals page for current pricing.
The bottle depot is open Monday to Saturday 9 to 5.
The depot has new physical distancing measures, including a limit on the number of customers in the depot at any given time. Not more than five customers at a time, please wait outside if there are too many customers lined up.
We have also made the following changes to our public drop off area:
Donations of refundables can be dropped off outside the building. Please separate glass bottles. Milk cartons and tetra pack beverage containers can also be donated. Donations to Raven are currently being shared with Humane Society Yukon.
We are accepting textiles for recycling during depot hours. Please bring textiles in through the doors at that end of the depot.
Paper is now sorted into three categories – white office, other paper products, and brown paper, which includes cardboard, boxboard and all brown paper.
Both hard and soft plastics, and non refundable tetra paks are now together in one bunker.
Going forward, we will no longer be collecting styrofoam as there is no viable market.
The E-waste depot is open to accept electronics.
We appreciate your understanding and your dedication to recycling. We hope that these changes will help to shine a light on the importance of the other two Rs, Reducing and Reusing, which are more important than recycling to lowering our overall environmental impact.