A waste facility in the R.M. of Louise is doing things right when it comes to planning for the future, something that was recognized as they won the Sustainability in Pollution Prevention Award from the provincial government. That was one of the awards given out under the banner of Manitoba Excellence in Sustainability.
“You really work hard in the community to prove that you’re doing something good for the environment and something good for your community,” Alana Williams explained. “To be recognized with this award, it really shows that the province is paying attention to what we’re doing and that we’re doing something really innovative.”
“I think that’s something really important for our community to realize,” she added.
The Louise Management Facility is managed by the R.M. of Louise, Pilot Mound and Crystal City.
They were recognized for diverting waste from the landfill and increasing the amount of recyclables being removed from the waste stream.
Household waste has been reduced by 20 per cent with the enhanced sorting of recyclables, metals and wood burnable material.
They’ve also created ways to better compost the waste going into the facility and have increased the life of their landfill site to 70 years from 35 years, if volumes remain the same.
Williams said the idea came out of necessity in the 1990s as councillors from Crystal City and Pilot Mound prepared to open their new landfill site.
“There’s only two places within the municipality of Louise that are enough clay based,” she said of possible sites.
An 80 acre site was chosen but because of the lack of other places there was one big question that needed answers.
“How are we going to make this last?” she said.
The answer lay partly in better sorting of garbage.
“When the garbage comes in, we have a conveyor system and it goes into a trommel which rips open the bags,” she said. “Everything goes across the conveyor and the guys will pick out recyclables, or pick out metal, or anything that really shouldn’t go into our garbage cell. Then it gets ground up really fine, put into a truck and put into our cell,” she said.
Tests done over the years found the garbage composts much better in the cell.
Some items are completely diverted away from the cell.
Electronic waste, household hazardous waste, metal, pesticide containers, shingles, batteries (both household and auto), and recyclables are taken away. “We’re basically a one stop shop,” she said.
Williams said they are continuously reassessing since they opened their new facility in 2006.
“Things have definitely changed over the last 13 years,” she said. “Mistakes are made and solutions are found, but it’s a lot of bumps and grinds for sure.”
Strong community support makes the process work, and while Williams said 95 per cent of people are doing their part, there remains that five per cent that don’t seem to get it, not bothering to recycle at all, or not listening to the rules.
“It’s great if you’re putting it in your blue box but if you’re not abiding by what we’re doing, that doesn’t help either,” she said.
Williams said people overlook things like rinsing that peanut butter container, thinking it won’t make a difference.
“That one peanut butter container can contaminate one tonne of recycling,” she said.
Not only is it the right thing to do, Williams said it makes good economic sense as well.
“People need to realize the more they do on their end, then it alleviates the tax part of it and the levies don’t get as high,” she said.
Winning the award also brings other municipalities knocking to see how things are done, although Williams said that’s been happening for years.
“We’ve actually had municipalities from all over Manitoba come and have a look at how we’re doing things at the site,” she said. The word is definitely getting out there.”
The award won’t stop future attempts to improve the system. “It’s been a long road and we still have lots of bumps and bruises to get through for sure,” she said.