Developers may soon be required to recycle construction and demolition waste and City staff, council and residents in Airdrie are saying, “It’s about time.”
On June 21, Airdrie Alderman Glenda Alexander attended a meeting between Alberta Environment, the Recycling Council of Alberta and seven municipalities to discuss legislation regarding the recycling of materials such as drywall, wood, asphalt and shingles.
“Most municipalities in Alberta and Canada-wide are strong supporters of environmental initiatives,” said Alexander.
“We are looking to the Province to bring forward the legislation. We are ready, they’re not.”
Alexander will bring what she learned at the meeting to the Airdrie Environmental Advisory Board, which will research the possibility and bring it to City council at a future meeting. Representatives from Beiseker, Cochrane, High River, Crossfield, Okotoks and Calgary attended the meeting on June 21.
According to the Recycling Council of Alberta, construction and demolition waste accounts for about 25 per cent of the total amount of municipal solid waste sent to landfills.
It is estimated that no more than 10 per cent of all construction waste materials are currently being recycled.
Alberta continues to lead the nation in terms of waste disposal per capita – well over a tonne per person.
“All you have to do is drive through a residential community under construction and you will see huge bins of garbage,” said Alexander.
“Everything is being thrown away and much of that is recyclable. We want to recycle and reuse as much as we can because landfills are getting fuller and fuller by the minute and smaller and smaller by the second.”
Dan Zembal, owner of Alberta Waste and Recycling and past president of the Recycling Council of Alberta, said about 860,000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste is thrown into landfills every year in Alberta.
It is estimated that 80 per cent of that could be recycled.
“I think if this legislation is passed, you will see a lot more materials being recycled,” he said.
“I think this is a positive step to prevent this resource from being buried.”
Alberta Waste and Recycling has a location in Airdrie that recycles wood, drywall, asphalt shingles, concrete and asphalt.
Zembal was the president of the Recycling Council of Alberta when the construction and demolition legislation was first suggested two years ago.
He contributed to early drafts of the requirements.
The legislation would implement a deposit-refund program that would charge an initial deposit, based on square footage, value or type of building.
All or part of this deposit would then be refunded upon completion of construction, depending on the amount of material diverted from disposal.
The proposed program is set up so that builders and construction companies can get back the majority of their deposit if they participate in recycling their construction waste.
“I think this is a great idea and although it is in the preliminary stages, a lot of municipalities, including Airdrie, are implementing small components until there is legislation to back them up,” said Theresa Wilcox Kelly, environmental services coordinator with the City of Airdrie.
Alexander said she hopes the construction and demolition recycling legislation will be brought forward this fall.