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Recycling in City of Thompson in jeopardy

The Thompson Recycling Centre is facing some tough times right now, working with outdated trucks and machinery and inadequate space to store all of the city's recyclable materials.
The manager of the Thompson Recycling Centre says a new facility is a must so that material can be stored indoors.

The Thompson Recycling Centre is facing some tough times right now, working with outdated trucks and machinery and inadequate space to store all of the city's recyclable materials.

Orla Banbury-Angus, manager of the Thompson Recycling Centre, says these issues, on top of the filthy state materials come to the centre in, adds up to a money- losing business.

She also says another big concern at the centre is people putting out non-recyclable material, such as Styrofoam, into the bins to be picked up. She also sees a lot of used diapers and dog feces, which has no place along with other recyclables and actually contaminates whatever it's stored with.

Curbside pickup has become a very labour intensive process, Banbury-Angus says, with workers driving up and down streets, picking up recyclables and sorting it into their trailers. She says that she wishes the public would start sorting their material, and has sent out sorting information, but she's not seeing it happen. She also stresses that if people need more bins for sorting or smaller bins they can stop by the recycling centre and pick them up.

Banbury-Angus says perhaps one of the most pressing concerns is the lack of storage space the centre has and the antiquated equipment it uses.

"We need more storage space. With the amount of material that comes through, our sort line is terribly inadequate, and our equipment is just old. That's a given - everybody in the community knows that, if they take a look at our trucks. They're dilapidated, and we need funding for that," she explains. "We need new equipment and we need a bigger facility in some way or another, because any material that's stored outside is contaminated - if it's moist, it's no good." Banbury-Angus adds that the centre also can't store its e-waste (old computers, televisions, etc.) inside, so it ends up getting wet and the centre loses money.

Banbury-Angus says another way the centre has been losing money is because the plants they ship to in southern Manitoba are stockpiling because of the current economic climate, which forces the Thompson centre to stockpile, even though they don't have room, which leads to them taking a loss and possibly having to put recyclable material in the landfill.

Thompson, along with other communities in Manitoba, receives funds for its recycling program from the Manitoba Product Stewardship Corporation (MPSC) for every tonne of eligible material they recycle, based on a rate that varies by population. The MPSC itself gets money from the Province of Manitoba's two-cent beverage levy. Banbury-Angus says the City of Thompson as well as the Recycling Centre's board of directors is working on lobbying the government for more funding, saying that if things keep going the way they are the centre won't be able to keep operating.

"The city supports us as best they can and is supportive in some ways very much, in other ways maybe not so much The city is helping us, the board is working on that, it's all going to come around. It will, it's just taking time and our community needs to be patient," she explains, asking the community to help by keeping their material clean and sorting it. "Help us out and keep it going. If we don't keep it going, shame on us. We need to keep our area clean."

The bailer at the Thompson Recycling Centre, which compresses material into large squares, broke down for 10 days at the end of April and beginning of May this year, causing the centre to have to ship some recyclable material to the landfill.