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Thompson Recycling Centre lunchroom shut down due to health concerns

Story: Despite some recent complications at the Thompson Recycling Centre (TRC), including its lunchroom being shut down by an inspector from Manitoba Workplace Health & Safety, the City of Thompson is remaining positive about the future of recycling
The inside of the Thompson Recycling Centre.


Despite some recent complications at the Thompson Recycling Centre (TRC), including its lunchroom being shut down by an inspector from Manitoba Workplace Health & Safety, the City of Thompson is remaining positive about the future of recycling in Thompson.

Orla Banbury-Angus, manager of the TRC, told the Thompson Citizen that the lunchroom was shut down on the morning of Nov. 25 after an inspection was completed.

"It was just filthy but above and beyond that, even if we had cleaned it completely and washed the walls, there's no fan or ventilation and the lunch room is in too close proximity to the actual recycling, therefore the contamination can spread," she explains. "So not only is the lunchroom closed but we need two washroom facilities, one with two stalls or two separate ones. We only have one bathroom right now, but due to the number of employees and the fact that we have both females and males, we need it."

The City of Thompson is in its last week of rolling out its new waste management system, which includes a Labrie automated solid waste garbage truck and 3,300 pairs of garbage and delivery bins from the city's 2009 capital budget to allow for single-operator truck combined curbside collection.

Banbury-Angus claims that this new system, however, does not necessarily work well for the TRC.

"Nobody wants to make a decision to put anything into the recycling centre until we decide what we're doing with the new waste management program," she says. "With the new bins coming out in the new waste management plan, they want to put out recycle bins on the curb as soon as possible. If they do that, our facility is not equipped to handle it. So they're seriously looking at shipping our material unsorted, unbailed to Winnipeg, which is at an outrageous cost."

Banbury-Angus says that if that situation happened, the TRC would be unable to keep up with the amount of recycling that would be coming through its doors.

"The big question that should go out there Is did the city look at this as a whole, as a big picture, prior to putting in the new waste management truck in the new system?" she asks. "They didn't evaluate whether our facility could handle it. They put the cart before the horse - they've got this all going, but with no consideration for what we have to do."

Banbury-Angus also pointed out that the City of Thompson is currently waiting to hear back from both the provincial and federal government about funding for the TRC, a fact which Deputy Mayor Harold Smith has confirmed.

Smith also defends the city's new waste management system, claiming it is up to date with what other municipalities around the province have been doing and helps ease the burden placed on the local landfill.

"We only have so much room for garbage, and at the same time it's a double-win because it's a more efficient way to collect garbage with this automated system and its better for employee safety," he reasons. "That in itself is going to drive more people to recycle. And we're already seeing that this is a success, make no mistake about itwe've already seen a dramatic increase in material going out into the landfill."

Smith says there are preparations being made to ensure the TRC is ready for recycling numbers to go up and even double in the near future, saying the city is a big partner with the facility and will help them with a process to handle all the new material. He says this might include introducing some interim practices such as new equipment. He says the final plan won't be in place until the city hears back from various levels of government about funding grants they've applied for.

"We don't know when two of the permanent changes might happen at the TRC - one is moving to curbside collection of recycling using the automated trucks and binsbut we're not going to do it unless we're ready for the material at the TRC," he stresses. "We also don't know when we'll be able to fit in some capital improvements to the TRC facility so that's all in play right now and we're actively discussing that."

Smith also said that shipping material out to Winnipeg is not actively being considered as an option right now but that he wouldn't rule anything out, especially if it would cost less than other alternatives.

Banbury-Angus says in an ideal scenario, the TRC would have a new location that houses everything to do with recycling, reusing and looking after the environment, along with a decent sort line and a space for an oil depot as well as a year-round e-waste program. She also mentions the City of Thompson and TRC could work with the Suzuki Foundation in setting up a good plan for Thompson and the rest of the North.

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