SUMMERSIDE – Not surprisingly, Island Waste Management deals with increased collections this time of year.
Heather Myers, disposal manager of Island Waste Management, said calculating the exact increase is difficult but there is definitely more to be picked up.
“We don’t have specific stats because there are just so many variables,” she said. “People forget to put their carts out, their compost cart or their waste cart or their recyclables out over the holidays.
“Weather impacts it…But we know, in general terms, that there’s definitely an increase, certainly on the compost side. We probably see a 25 per cent to 30 per cent increase just with all of the wrapping paper and boxboard that comes in.
One of the variables affecting the accuracy of the figures is the sorting habits of the customers.
“Keep all of those ribbons and bows and plastics out of there,” Myers said. “If people are putting their wrapping paper, that is just paper, in the compost along with their boxboard, it’s a fair increase.”
One of the jobs of the contractors is to collect discarded Christmas trees and Myers said she has seen a change in that aspect over the years.
“With Christmas trees, again, it’s hard,” she said. “Every year it’s variable. I find it’s going down. I think more and more people are getting into the artificial trees. So, we see less and less all the time.”
Over the last few years another use has been found for unwanted Christmas trees.
“There are some watershed groups that look for trees,” Myers said. “So, some of the trees don’t actually end up coming to us. And we work with watershed groups. The last couple of years, we’ve had some calls wanting to know when the contractors pick the trees up curbside if they could deliver then to their watershed locations for some projects they have in the spring and summer. So, we’ve done that. It’s a good use for them.”
On the waste side, Myers said there is an increase in volume.
“It’s a lot of Styrofoam and non-recyclable plastics that come in,” she said. “It doesn’t add a whole lot of weight but it certainly adds volume. With recyclables we get all of the plastics numbered one to five. I find just more, even in my own household, what I have for recyclables is corrugated cardboard and more food-type packaging, like extra tin cans and extra plastics to put into the recycling streams.”
The extra activity during the holidays means more work for the collection crews.
“Quite often, this time of the year, the contractors, when they are picking up curbside, they find that there is a fair bit of extra waste beside the carts – both the compost cart and waste cart. It is extra work for them for sure and then at the processing facilities it’s certainly extra work to process it.”
Despite the increased volumes and the extra duty of collecting Christmas trees, the process moves on smoothly.
“Things move through pretty quickly,” Myer said. “The compost facility, when the Christmas trees start coming in, they’ll grind them up and make a mulch out of them. They usually hold on to them usually until near the end of the Christmas trees coming in so that they’re not staring up the grinder and then having to re-start it. If you went out there you might see a pile of Christmas trees for a few days but other than that everything moves through pretty quickly.”