Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Election Sign Takedown

Public Service Announcement

City reminds candidates to remove all signs by midnight Thursday, October 19, 2017

Candidates who ran in the Edmonton Election have until midnight on Thursday, October 19, 2017 to take down signs or face fines.

All election signs must be removed from public property within three days of the election. Starting Friday, October 20, 2017, the City of Edmonton’s Community Standards Peace Officers will begin removing any remaining signs and candidates may be fined up to $250 per sign.

Citizens can call 311 to report concerns about the removal of campaign signs.

The City of Edmonton encourages candidates and residents to recycle plastic or cardboard campaign signs and metal frames at any of these locations:

Signs must be separated from their stakes, and components sorted into the correct bins to be recycled. Large signs must be cut into pieces no larger than 3’ x 3’ (1m x 1m).

Residents may also place cardboard and plastic household lawn signs out with their regular recycling. All frames and stakes should be removed and placed in the garbage or brought to an Eco Station or the Edmonton Waste Management Centre for scrap metal recycling.

For more information, visit campaign signs or how to recycle your sign.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tell One Friend: The Reuse Centre Accepts More Items

Designate a convenient area in your home to collect items for the Reuse Centre. Print and post the list of accepted items, including the new list, nearby for quick reference. 

Use these ideas to remind your friends, family and co-workers:

Change Habits
"The Reuse Centre now accepts even more items for reuse. Have you thought about starting a collection bin?" 

Prompt Them
"Set up a collection bin and start collecting. You don't have to go to the Reuse Centre all the time, only when the bin is full."

(You might offer to take them along on one of your visits.)

One Small Ask
"Will you start collecting items you think are reusable but are not accepted anywhere else?" 

Collecting and donating items to the Reuse Centre is an easy way to reduce the amount of waste thrown away. Did you know... all these items can be dropped off for free at the Reuse Centre?

Remember, they can't accept clothing, bedding, kitchen items or toys. These can go to many other organizations.

Tell One Friend: Thank a Friend for Recycling

A simple and positive word will keep a friend recycling. Thank them for doing it. It's a win-win situation for both of you. It will keep you happy and they will feel appreciated.

Use these ideas to get started: 

Reinforce Habits
"I noticed that you recycle as much as you can. Thank you. It makes a big difference."

Then, listen to their story. Don't judge. Ask questions like, "why do you like to recycle?" Remember to keep the conversation about them. 

Make It Convenient 
"I found having a recycling bin under my bathroom sink helps me recycle empty shampoo bottles." 

One Small Ask
"It sounds like you know what to recycle. If you are ever unsure, can we chat? I don't have all of the answers but we can find out together."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Trashed - Book Review by MCR Eve C.

Book Review
Trashed: by Derf Backderf. Abrams ComicArt: New York, 2015.

Review by Eve C., MCR-in-training.

                                                 Image source: http://images.tcj.com/2016/02/Derf-coverWB.jpg

 As MCRs-in-training, we were fortunate enough to hear from an Edmonton waste collector, who described how he and his team go about providing the important service of moving our waste from curbside to the Edmonton Waste Management Centre. It was good to hear that Edmontonians generally are very supportive of our waste system.  We heard about kids who wave to their waste collector every day, senior citizens who wait by their curb to chat with their collector, and a homeowner who responded immediately when she realized her collector had slipped and fallen on his daily route.

With this background of a first-hand description of waste collection in my city today, I was very interested to read Trashed, a graphic novel all about garbage and garbage collection.

For those of us who toss our trash in a bag and set it out at night, only to have it whisked away before we wake up, Trashed provides an eye-opening look at the journey waste takes. Derf Backderf, drawing on his experience as a waste collector and citing statistics about waste in America, portrays a year in the life of an American small-town garbage man in the late 1970s. His tale tells how our waste goes from curbside to landfill and the people who work hard every day to make this happen. Backderf’s portrayal also contrasts with the more modern technology, safety, and work culture that waste collectors in Edmonton enjoy.

The novel begins with the unnamed and unemployed protagonist finally giving in to his long-suffering mother’s request to clean up his pigsty of a room. Depositing his waste in a pile in and around the garbage can, he is overwhelmed by the revolting smell. He decides to abandon the task, prophetically stating, “Aw, screw it…. the garbagemen can deal with it.”

Shortly after, a vague newspaper ad leads to a job on a municipal garbage truck, driving through the summer, fall, winter and spring seasons of garbage, each with their own piquant details. Summer brings heat, which does not improve the odour of garbage, while winter includes solid masses of frozen garbage in cans waiting to slide onto the toes of the unwary, and blizzards that shut down almost everything – except the need to haul garbage. The at-times overwhelming portrayal of the waste we create is leavened by a generous dose of humour at the challenges and small victories of daily life.

Interspersed with these adventures in waste are asides about the big picture of garbage. Interludes include the history of garbage, diagrams of modern landfills and their vulnerability to leakage, and diagrams of the ever-increasing quantities and composition of waste in America.  These tie the indifference of individuals, whose lack of ownership towards their garbage starts from the minute it leaves their houses, to the revolting and dangerous effects of huge quantities of waste on both the individuals who work to keep our urban environments clean, and to the planet as a whole.

Although at first not overly excited about the job he has somehow found, as time goes on, the narrator becomes more familiar with the rhythms of his job.  Some residents, including the holy grail – the home that produces one tidy garbage bag per week – pleasantly surprise him. After a year has passed, much to his surprise, he decides to stay working in waste collection. 

Overall, this graphic novel is an entertaining look at a side of life most of us do not often consider. Backderf vividly portrays the day-to-day details of the reality of garbage collection alongside our society’s exponentially increasing culture of disposal, resulting in an entertaining and unsettling look at the world of waste.

Postscript: Trashed in Edmonton

Taking ownership of our waste involves many different aspects: reducing the quantity of garbage we produce, properly diverting waste wherever possible, and once we have only the proper items in the garbage bag, ensuring that our trash is ready for collection.

Although this last aspect is perhaps sometimes forgotten in the focus on waste reduction, Backderf’s description of the daily routine of waste collectors shows that an individual can make a difference, especially in the life of a waste collector. Here are four simple asks that can keep our Edmonton waste collectors safe and working efficiently to take care of our waste:

·        Keep it light (make sure you can lift your garbage with one hand);
·        Box and label “sharps”;
·        Use the right can; and
·        And make it safe to reach your trash

For more info on helping waste collectors in Edmonton check out this FAQ

And view this video for the top three ways to make your waste collector’s job easier. 

You can borrow the book, Trashed, from the Edmonton Public Library

Friday, August 18, 2017

MCR Daniel K.: Composting Makes Edmonton a Better Place to Live

Daniel K. recounts his visit at Compost 'S cool.

The classic three bin system. 
Compost ‘S cool is an amazing place with lots of friendly people around to teach you about different techniques of composting and its many benefits. I was already familiar with the 3 bin system before arriving, and was fascinated by the spool, sphere, and rolling track compost tumblers. Although with merit, I still prefer the classic non-tumbling composting techniques. There's nothing like seeing the results of your efforts: finding that your old food scraps have turned back into their basic elements.

Having a blast irrigating the composting toilet. 

I would love to learn more about the composting toilet, because I think cities need more of these fantastic waste receptacles. While Edmonton is a leader when it comes to taking care of “business”, so many other places are polluting waterways through lack of proper techniques. Maybe Edmonton could serve as an international educator for rural hu-manure programs, and start by setting up a system at the EWMC?

Daniel is a resourceful and experienced sustainability professional with education and work experience in coordinating and implementing sustainability programs. His strengths lie in designing projects and implementing detailed plans which drive increased participation and interest. He has currently joined with the Edmonton Tool Library and Edmonton Food Council, and hopes to contribute to making Edmonton a better place to live.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tell One Friend: Label Your Leftovers

Keep a marker and tape by the fridge to make labeling your leftovers easy and convenient.

Labeling and dating containers in the fridge helps fight food waste by reminding us what we have, and what needs to get eaten first. Keeping a marker and tape handy and visible means you won't have to go hunting through drawers.

Use these ideas to remind your friends, family and co-workers:

Change habits
"Labelling your leftovers makes it easy to remember what's in the fridge, and when it needs to be eaten."

Prompt them
"Keeping a marker and tape right beside my fridge makes it easy to label my containers."

One small ask
"Will you try keeping a marker and tape beside your fridge for the next month?"

Want to learn more about Food Waste in Edmonton?

You'll receive tips and tricks on how to reduce your food waste footprint, three to four times per year. You'll also be invited to participate in future research opportunities that will help us to better understand and combat food waste in Edmonton.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tell One Friend: Visit Compost 'S cool

Compost 'S cool is a great learning resource for compost beginners and experts. Visitors can see various backyard bins in action, get a lesson on worm composting, or even discuss the ins-and-outs of a Bokashi bucket.

Compost 'S cool is staffed on weekends and holidays from 10-4, Victoria Day to Labour Day.

If you know anyone who is curious about compost, struggling with their bin or just in need of a refresher, tell them to visit! Drop-in advice is always free!

Want more structured learning? Take a Basic Composting workshop for just $10!

Use these ideas to remind your friends, family and co-workers:

Change habits
“Curious about composting, but not sure where to start? Visit Compost 'S cool and talk to an expert!”

Prompt them
"Composting is easy, when you have the knowledge. You can learn everything you need to know at Compost 'S cool."

One small ask
"Will you contact our compost experts if you have questions about composting?"

Can't visit in person?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Guardian Dental Goes Green

Staff at Guardian Dental contacted the City of Edmonton's Waste Services in early 2016, looking for information about Edmonton's recycling system. They were developing a sustainability plan and mandate, and wanted to know how they could reduce waste in their office. 

We were thrilled to hear back from them recently with an update on their sustainability journey! Dr. Katherine Roche and her staff are committed to sustainable practices, and hope to inspire other businesses to go green.
It was mid-November 2015 and I was standing in my newly purchased dental practice! I had been working as an associate dentist in several practices for nearly a decade, learning and growing and helping patients. However, one aspect of these offices always bugged me: bags and bags of garbage!

A significant quantity of throw-away, single-use items accumulates throughout the day and ends up in the landfill.  I wanted to do better and find other options.  As the owner of my own office with a supportive and motivated team, I knew I could give environmental practices and purchasing choices the priority they deserve.

The method for our sustainability audit was simple, if not easy: examine everything we placed in the garbage.  Was it essential? Was there a washable or sterilizable alternative? Minimal packaging? Recyclable? Biodegradable? Basically, applying the "reduce, reuse, recycle" mantra.

Dr. Katherine Roche loves her green, biodegradable gloves.
The dental industry has moved toward disposable items for the sake of convenience. Environmentally friendly products and alternatives are not often priorities.  When we told suppliers our purchasing mandate, there was often a long pause over the phone. Fortunately, we have found some great solutions without compromising the safety or functionality of our dental office.

Now, instead of a full garbage bag of mixed-material trash at the end of a single operating day, the only ‘landfill’ material our office throws away are surgical masks, mini plastic brushes, and plastic-and-wire suction tips, all of which are sourced from BeeSure EcoBee with recycled and biodegradable content. The office also generates compostable material consisting of food waste from our (usually) home made lunches, the completely biodegradable single-use surgical gloves, and paper (non-lined) cups. Every other material is either recycled or reused once it has been cleaned or sterilized.

It has been a long and ongoing process obtaining products that fit our mandate. In some cases, there aren't good alternatives available, and we have encountered some puzzling regulation requirements. We are researching sustainably and ethically sourced floss. Finding an affordable option can be a challenge. Most conventional floss is nylon or Teflon. These materials will never biodegrade. It's heartbreaking to think of this material - so essential to dental health! - slowly compromising our environment, thread by thread.
Our compact washing machine and reusable bibs.
We spent a considerable amount of capital to upgrade our sterilization cassettes to ones that don't require double layers of polypropylene wrap for each sterilization load.  We recycle all of our paper-and-plastic sterilization pouches (separated into components).  We have replaced disposable bibs and head rest covers with bright,waterproof fabric ones which are laundered in a high efficiency washing machine. We use a fast-acting, eco-friendly disinfecting cleaner rather than using disposable plastic sheeting barriers on all surfaces. We appreciate the efforts of all the companies and organizations that support us with environmental options, from EcoBee in California and POH in Oklahoma, to local heroes like Greenmunch and the amazing education team with the City of Edmonton.

The team at Guardian Dental.
For business owners, sustainability efforts are sometimes framed as prohibitively expensive. In reality, our commitment to finding low waste solutions has saved us money over time that is then reallocated toward energy offsets and more sustainable product choices.

It takes time and education to make patients consider the environmental impact of the different businesses they support. Most patients see their dentist once or twice a year and don't consider the cumulative impact. People often think of eco dentistry as something that relates to the materials used to repair their teeth.  I always carefully consider every dental treatment plan for biocompatibility and preservation of existing tooth structure for a lifetime of oral health. However, there is more to my patients' health than the dental care I provide. I want to be constantly considering and investigating ways to conserve resources and preserve the natural environment. I believe in restoring that commitment to a place of priority in all aspects of our lives, our businesses as well as our homes.

Dr Katherine Roche DDS

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Tell One Friend: Go Bagless this Summer!

Image provided by the City of Edmonton

Tell One Friend: Go Bagless this summer!

In the summer months, over half the waste collected in Edmonton is grass clippings. Going bagless and leaving the clippings on the lawn is the number one way to reduce waste this time of year. It's easy, good for your lawn and great for the environment!

Encourage friends and neighbours to request a “Go Bagless” lawn sign. They will be entered into a draw to win a free checkup and tuneup for their lawnmower at the Lawnmower Hospital.

Learn more at edmonton.ca/gobagless.

Use these ideas to remind your friends, family and co-workers:

Change habits
“Going bagless is easy, it’s good for your lawn and less work for you.”

Prompt them
"You don't need to buy a special mower to go bagless. You can take the bag off your current mower and raise the cutting blade."

One small ask
"Will you try going bagless this summer?"

Going bagless is easy. Here’s how to get started.
  • Mow high so that no more than ⅓ of the grass blade is removed.
  • Mow often. Mow every 4-5 days during heavy growth season, and once a week when growth is slower.
  • Mow when the grass is dry to prevent clumping.
  • Make sure your mower blade is sharp.
  • If grass clippings end up on your sidewalk, just sweep them back onto your lawn.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

An Indoor Worm Condo that's Fast, Cheap and Good part 2 by MCR Dan K.

A good rule of thumb for any kind of project is that you can't do it fast, cheaply and have a good result. You can have any two out of these three, but not all of them. It's not always true though, especially if the project is simple enough, like a worm bin made from stackable plastic storage containers.

For my fast, cheap and good worm condo, I used three small Trofast containers from IKEA. They're especially good for a worm bin because they have a recessed channel that runs all around the inner edge. Liquids and worms will go in there. A few 1/4" holes drilled in the corners will allow fluid to drain down to the bottom bin. (Don't drill any holes in the bottom bin.)  Holes allow worms and air to move through the bins as well.

Mark where you want to put the holes.

Then drill. Any drill bit with a diameter of about 3-5mm will do, since that's the size of most red wigglers.

The smallest Trofast bins make a very compact worm condo that you could fit under a kitchen sink, and you can easily add more levels to for more volume. It's also an easy bin to pick up and take with you for demos and workshops.

Since these bins are semi-transparent, you may want to keep them in a dark or shaded area, or else cover them.
I also got one of the larger Trofast containers, which has a really nice cover. I didn't pay attention to the measurements when I ordered these online; I thought the bigger bin was only deeper and not wider than the smaller ones. Wrong -- It's actually a totally different size.

I decided to put this large bin outside by our garbage cans with a bit of fresh scraps and compost my worms have been working on since early March.

I topped it off with some dry leaves that were stuck around the border of our small garden.

I can see this being a good place to put our Bokashi compost in the warm months, and any extra fresh stuff when I run out of room in my indoor bins.

The only thing these bins lack, that commercial worm bins often have, is a drain at the bottom. It would be simple to add a base and plastic spigot. Brewing supply stores are a good place to get these. It's even simpler to lift out the upper bins when you periodically "fluff" them and drain the bottom bin by pouring any collected leachate into a watering can for use on your plants.
-All photos provided by Dan K.


Dan is a freelance web developer and father of four relatively efficient, non-wasteful young women. Originally from New York, Dan moved to Edmonton in 2016 and joined the MCR Program straightaway to influence peple to let worms eat their garbage. Waste reduction tip: If you can get food and paper out of your trash, you may find you have very little garbage going to the curb every week.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Don't Feed the Grass Monster

During the grass growing season (May - August), weekly residential waste can be monstrous, even double the volume collected during the winter. To avoid feeding the Grass Monster, the City is asking residents to go bagless this summer, and leave grass clippings on the lawn.

An average household that bags their clippings sets out 40 to 50 bags of grass each year. Roughly 30,000 tonnes of grass are collected annually, which is equivalent to the weight of 2,382 City buses.

Going bagless has many benefits:
  • It’s good for your lawn: the grass clippings protect the soil by keeping moisture in the ground. Also, the clippings break down quickly, naturally fertilizing the lawn with nutrients after each mowing.
  • It’s good for you: no bagging and dragging of grass is required, and it reduces the need to water and fertilize your lawn.
  • It’s good for the environment: in the summer months, up to half of the waste collected by the City is grass. Going bagless is the easiest, most effective way to reduce waste. 
More than half of Edmonton households already practice going bagless -- join them! By signing up for a Go Bagless lawn sign, you’ll have a chance to win a checkup and tuneup for your mower from the Lawnmower Hospital.

For more information visit edmonton.ca/GoBagless.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Welcoming the 2017 MCRs

The 2017 Master Composter Recycler (MCR) training has officially finished! We're excited to welcome 37 new MCRs-in-Training to the program. Congratulations on completing the training!

2017 MCRs on the tip floor at the IPTF.
This group has embraced their volunteer goals! Since beginning their training on March 18, 2017 they have recorded over 230 hours and reached nearly 2,900 people!

The MCR training is focused on Edmonton's waste, and how it changes through the year. We talked about composting, recycling, Eco Stations, grasscycling, waste collection, the Reuse Centre and the processing facilities at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre.

Volunteers also learned about techniques and tools to use when chatting with friends, family and neighbours about changing their waste behaviours. Experienced MCRs came in to share their stories and successes, and to reach out to new volunteers.

50 veteran MCRs also followed along with this year's training via email. They received updated manuals, handouts, and links to all of the informative, interesting and sometimes downright hilarious videos shown in class.

Thank you to all Waste Services Staff and MCR volunteers who helped make this year's training such a success! We know our newest volunteers will be great ambassadors for waste reduction in Edmonton!

2017 MCRs-in-Training learned from a variety of Waste Services staff and veteran MCR volunteers.

All photographs provided by the City of Edmonton.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Tell One Friend: Use Your Compost!

Image provided by the City of Edmonton

Tell One Friend: Use your compost!

Now that spring has finally hit our fair city (knock on wood!), it's the perfect time to start using your finished compost. Your yard and garden will benefit from the burst of life and nutrients at the outset of the growing season.

Dig compost into your garden soil, sprinkle it over your lawn, or make a compost tea to nourish the soil in containers and houseplants.

Learn how at edmonton.ca/compost.

Use these ideas to remind your friends, family and co-workers:

Change habits
"Spring is a great time to use compost. It will get your growing season off to a healthy start."

Prompt them
"Let's look at your compost bin. You probably have some finished compost at the bottom."

One small ask
"Will you use some compost this spring?"

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

An Indoor Worm Condo That's Fast, Cheap, and Good by MCR Dan K.

I have used a medium-sized indoor "worm condo" for many years. It works very well and holds quite a lot of compost. However, it can't keep pace with the organic waste my family produces, and it's an expensive system -- two additional trays cost about $70.
Worm Factory (c) 3 Tray System by Nature's Footprint
For a bigger and less expensive system that can help us compost our kitchen scraps faster, I'm going to try making a bigger condo from IKEA Trofast storage containers

This great idea comes from Jules Yap at IkeaHackers and will cost only $17.50 new for the pieces I need. They are readily available at IKEA in Edmonton and may be found used on Kijiji and your friendly neighborhood garage sale.

Here's what I'm going to use:
  • (1) medium-sized, deeper container for the base to catch the leachate. 
  • (3) small, shallow containers to stack inside each other above the base container. (More could be added, but three seems like a good start.) Drainage and worm access holes will be drilled in the bottom of each one.
  • (1) lid for the topmost container. It's not strictly necessary, but if you don't want an open compost container in your house, a lid is nice.
Screen capture, courtesy IKEA.com
After I get my new worm highrise assembled next to my old condo I'll do a followup post to show how it works out.


Dan is a freelance web developer and father of four relatively efficient, non-wasteful young women. Originally from New York, Dan moved to Edmonton in 2016 and joined the MCR Program straightaway to influence peple to let worms eat their garbage. Waste reduction tip: If you can get food and paper out of your trash, you may find you have very little garbage going to the curb every week.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

It's Time to "Wake Up" Your Compost!

Many Edmontonians compost because they know it’s an easy way to reduce household waste by turning it into a valuable soil enhancement. International Compost Awareness Week (May 7-13) is the ideal time for residents to revitalize their gardens by stirring their compost or taking up composting for the first time!

Do you know how to wake up your compost?
The City of Edmonton is offering the following opportunities
to help residents better understand composting:
  • Take a basic or advanced two-hour workshop for only $10 at Compost ‘S cool, located near John Janzen Nature Centre.
    Workshops offered April 23 to May 6.
  • Ask the Compost Doctor anything you want to know about compost by calling 780-496-5526 or email compost@edmonton.ca.
  • Follow along with the conversation on Facebook@CompostScool. Get pointers and to-do lists for your weekend, plus learn something about organics recycling, every week.
To register for workshops, go to edmonton.ca/eReg or call 311.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

WasteWise Spring Cleaning

It's time for indoor and outdoor spring cleaning, and the City of Edmonton is encouraging residents to be waste wise by following some handy tips.

Cleaning inside the house?

  • Recycle empty plastic jugs and spray bottles. 
  • Cardboard paper towel cores are recyclable, but the used paper towel goes in the garbage.
  • Drop off electronics, paint, batteries, lightbulbs, and corrosive or hazardous cleaning products, such as oven cleaners at an Eco Station for FREE
  • Large items such as sofas, mattresses, tables can be taken to an Eco Station. A small fee applies.
  • Consider reuse!
    Donate items you no longer need to a charity, or pass them on to a family or friend. Check the Reuse Directory to see what can be donated where.

Cleaning your yard?

  • Leaves and lawn thatch can be set out in a black garbage bag. Keep your bag light; help your collector by keeping your bags under 15 kilograms.
  • Tie your branches and brunsh into small bundles no more than 1.2 metres in length, and weighing no more than you can easily lift.
  • Put your broken garden hose in the garbage, not the recycling. It can jam machinery at the recycling sorting plant.
  • If you waste is collected in the alley, be sure to trim overhanging tree branches to allow easy access for garbage trucks.
Not sure where an item should go? Download our free WasteWise app on your phone or visit edmonton.ca/waste.

Eco Stations are open Saturday and Monday, 9 am to 6:30 pm, closed Friday and Sunday, over the Easter  long weekend. For Eco Station locations and regular hours of operation, visit edmonton.ca/ecostations.

Make sure you set out your waste by 7 am on your collection day. Due to heavier waste volumes in the spring, your waste may be collected earlier than in the winter time.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Goodbye from Rodney... for Now

You may recall that I barely made it to the 2016 Volunteer Appreciation Event because my son was just a few days old. Well, it's time for me to be a full-time father for a while.

I will go on parental leave from May to October.

Ansel & Beatrice
Ansel has reached 6 months. He sleeps well but wakes up early (to his parents' chagrin). He loves walks, the swimming pool, his Mom, his sister, and cuddles.

I will have my hands full, this summer, as I'll also be balancing his 3-year-old sister, Beatrice. She is always running, singing, and dancing.
Missing Out
I will miss the daily contact with volunteers and co-workers. We work with and volunteer with good people, smart people, and inspiring people.

I have learned that MCRs are a fascinating bunch. Each with our own insights, passions, and motivations. But I know that every MCR can make a difference every day. Just keep connecting with friends and family and making one small ask.

You really are community leaders.
What Next?
We haven't confirmed who will take my place, just yet. But the MCR Program is in good hands. You can count on Sarah and our boss, MCR Aurea S.

Meanwhile, I know that THEY can count on YOU.

We will let you know who is coordinating the MCR Program just as soon as possible.

Enjoy the spring, Rodney

Tell One Friend: Eco Station Summer Hours

Tell One Friend: Eco Station summer hours are now in effect.

Between April 3 and October 28, 2017, Eco Stations are open Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 6:30 pm. They are closed on Sundays and holidays.

Spring cleaning means lots of business at Eco Stations, as residents clean out basements, garages and attics across the city. Expanded hours make it easier and more convenient for Edmontonians dispose of electronics, HHW and bulky items properly.

Note: Eco Stations will be closed on Good Friday (April 14) and open on Easter Monday (April 17)

Use these ideas to remind your friends, family and co-workers:

Change habits
"Eco Stations have extended operating hours during the summer. It's easier to plan your visit."

Prompt them
"Let's look at the schedule. When do you think you'd be able to go to the Eco Station?"

One small ask
"Will you visit the Eco Station this spring?"

For more information, visit edmonton.ca/ecostations

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Designs for a Modular Compost System

This modular compost system was designed by MCR Will S. in 2006/2007. He used almost entirely reused materials to build this bin, and has gotten many years of use out of it!

Thanks for sharing the photos and design, Will.

Will S. with his finished compost bin.


  • 32" or 36" wide
  • 64" or 96" long
  • 36" high

For 2 sections

  • 22: 1"x6"x6' used fence or siding boards to use as side-slats
  • 16' length of 2x4 wood OR 10: 3' length of 2x2 wood to use as posts
  • 1 sheet: corrugated fiberglass OR old window screen OR similar top
  • nails
  • several Robertson screws (square screws)
  • several Phillips screws (+ shaped screws)
  • 2: 2" hinges
  • 4: 2 1/2" hook eyes
   Optional: If you ever want to disassemble and move these bins.
  • 6 backboards
  • fixed bottom front

Instructions for Assembly

Plans for Will's compost bin. Build your own and share your pics with us!
  • A & B: Hook left side and left front gate together.
  • C: Hook left gate to centre.
  • D: Hook right gate to centre.
  • E: Hook right gate to right side.
  • F: Screw back top board #1 with one Robertson screw, to left side post, to right side post, and to centre post.
    Straighten so sides are vertical and add two more Robertson screws to each post.
    This leaves each post with three square screws.
  • G: Screw back bottom board #6 with one Robertson screw to left side post, to right side post, and to centre post.
    Add two more Robertson screws to each post.
  • H: Unhook gates. Now screw narrow front bottom board with one Robertson screw to bottom of left post, to right post, and to centre post.
  • I, J, K, L: Screw #5, #4, #3, and #2 backboards with one Phillips screw to left, to right, and to centre post.
  • M: Add two more screws to each post.
  • N: Place lid on top, with wood rail down. Screw hinges on with small Phillips screws.
  • O: Place one of short wood boards (the pads) under each of the six posts.
    Add or remove soil to stabilize the box under the posts.
  • P: Rehook each of the gates.
  • Q: Optional: Stain, paint, or preserve inside and outside. It will last longer and the bugs don't mind.
  • Start composting.
Do you have another design to share? Comment below OR email us.

- All photos and images provided by Will S.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

MCRs Tour Kennedale Eco Station

Almost forty MCRs (and MCRs-to-be!) and their friends braved an early-March snow storm to come for a tour of Kennedale Eco Station.

We were met by Andy, Hal and Chris, who showed us around, answered all of our questions and helped teach us what Edmontonians should know about coming to an Eco Station!

After a brief overview in the Kennedale lunch room, we bundled up against the cold and put on our safety gear. We then split up into three groups and got started!

Kathleen and Faical S. are two of our new 2017 volunteers! They're excited to start the MCR training.
Outside, we visited the entry kiosk and looked at some of the large bins, where things like scrap metal and lumber are collected. We also made a stop in the Reuse Area, where we chatted about what happens to still-usable items when they are dropped off at an Eco Station. With permission from the resident, those items are made available to others for reuse. We also chatted about the partnership between Eco Stations and the Reuse Centre, and the difference between the two different reuse opportunities.

Inside the main drop-off building, we learned a lot more about what Edmontonians can bring to an Eco Station, and how staff process those items.

Andy, Supervisor of Ambleside Eco Station, chats with his tour group about what happens when customers drive in with their items.
Eco Station staff are trained to accept and handle a wide variety of waste, including household chemicals. Cleaners, pest control products, motor oil, antifreeze and other potentially hazardous chemicals should never be thrown in the garbage or poured down the drain.

Motor oil can be dropped off at any Eco Station for free, and should never be placed in your regular garbage.
Staff place chemicals on labelled tables as customers drop them off, to avoid contamination and dangerous reactions. For this reason, Eco Stations ask that all chemicals be left in their original containers. This way, staff always know what they are dealing with.

Andy describes how chemicals are sorted by type.
For our safety, we were cautioned not to touch the tables or containers, as they might contain traces of corrosive or poisonous chemicals. Staff wear gloves, safety goggles, and protective Tyvex suits to keep safe while handling these items.

A drum full of household chemicals.
Chemicals of the same type are packaged together in large drums. When full, the drums will be sealed and shipped for processing elsewhere. Some chemicals can be recycled, while others are incinerated as hazardous waste at a facility in Swan Hills.

Hal, Supervisor of Kennedale Eco Station, opens up a drum of batteries.
Like other items, batteries are collected in drums and separated by type to avoid dangerous chemical interactions. This includes small household batteries, as well as the specialized batteries for laptops, cell phones and power tools. They will all be shipped to private companies for recycling. Different companies provide services for different types of batteries.

Cell phone batteries get removed, and the remaining hardware is collected in large, pallet-sized boxes. This one is about four feet tall, and about 3/4 full.
Some electronics like computers are kept in secure areas to protect personal information that might remain stored on the device. Televisions are put on pallets and wrapped for safe transport, while other small household electronics are stored in bins outside.

"White goods" like fridges, freezers and air conditioners can emit CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons, into the atmosphere. This can be damaging to the ozone layer so these items are processed separately. Other large appliances are also collected.

All electronics collected at Eco Stations will be packaged and sent to Global Electric Electronic Processing (GEEP), a facility that is housed at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre. Employees working at GEEP dismantle all of the electronics and separate the various materials for recycling. They recover metals like gold, aluminum and copper, as well as other materials like plastic and glass.

Fluorescent bulbs are collected in large cardboard tubes to await processing.
Fluorescent bulbs are collected and run through a bulb crusher, which grinds up the glass and captures the mercury inside so it can be recycled or disposed of safely. All light bulbs, even those that don't contain mercury, should be taken to an Eco Station.
Chris, Lead Hand at Kennedale Eco Station, describes how the bulb crusher (pictured in the background) works.
Flourescent light ballasts are examined carefully before sorting. Old ballasts require special processing because they may contain polychlorinated biphynyls (PCBs), which are considered hazardous. Modern light ballasts are handled like other electronics.

This bag contains fluorescent light ballasts for special disposal.
After the tour, our three groups met back in the lunch room, where we were able to ask a few more questions, and chat with each other about what we had seen. Andy finished off our tour with his top tips to share for your next Eco Station visit:
  1. Do your research. Eco Stations accept a wide variety of items! Many customers arrive and are surprised by what they could have brought in.
  2. Handle your waste safely. Always keep chemicals in their original containers and never mix them. Transport chemicals in a sturdy box, rather than plastic bags, to reduce the chances of spills.
  3. Sort your material. Put chemicals together in one box, electronics in another and so on. This will make your visit quick and easy! 
  4. Be patient. Eco stations are popular so please allow for extra time during busy periods. Staff are working hard to serve residents as efficiently as possible!
  5. Start with the 3Rs at home! Many usable items are dropped off at Eco Stations. Save time, save money, and save the planet by limiting what you purchase, reusing the things you have, and donating items to others.
Thank you to everyone who joined us, and special thanks go out to Andy, Hal, and Chris for organizing and hosting our tour!

-Photographs provided by MCR program staff