After spending most of the school year learning how to reduce waste and consumption, Mrs. Evdokimoff’s Grade 6 class at Twin Rivers Elementary received the opportunity to see where their garbage and recycling ends up during a field trip last week.
The students visited both the Brilliant Recycling Centre and Ootischenia Landfill to see firsthand what happens to their garbage or recycling after it’s taken away on the truck.
At the Brilliant Recycling Centre, operated by Waste Management, recycling from Blueberry to Kaslo to Edgewood is brought to the plant for processing.
“Castlegar is further along than any other community in the West Kootenay,” Paul Steenvoorden, Kootenays route manager for Waste Management said.
The reason for this is because residents in Castlegar are able to recycle plastic shopping bags — no other community accepts them yet.
At the recycling centre, 5,400 metric tonnes were processed last year. Eighty per cent of all the material recycled was fiber or wood pulp, which is equivalent to roughly 25,800 trees.
In total, the recycling saved one tree for every man, woman and child in Castlegar, Trail and Nelson, Steenvoorden said.
From the recycling centre, most of the material is sent to the Lower Mainland for further processing. Glass, however, stays local because of how expensive it is to truck it away. The glass is crushed and used as a base for roads within the Ootischenia Landfill.
The field trips were part of Wildsight’s Beyond Recycling program – a program that the students have taken part in since October.
Monica Nissen, Wildsight’s education program manager said it’s important for the students to see where their waste goes.
“The impact of seeing all that garbage shows students that there’s actually no ‘away’ in ‘throwaway’; everything goes back into natural systems,” she said. “These kids have worked hard to reduce waste throughout the year; this trip shows them why their work is important. There’s nothing like seeing a mountain of garbage that makes the school bus look like a toy to drive the message home.”
Jessica Thomson, the Beyond Recycling educator at Twin Rivers, said the trips were a great opportunity for the students.
“This trip really puts things in perspective for them,” Thomson said. “They see and smell the local waste process, and in turn this exposure impacts their every day decisions on what they actually throw ‘away’ and what they can recycle. This is a very positive experience for them.”
The class was busy again this week participating in activities for Earth Day, which is this Friday.