Town hopes to see curbside recycling collection resume in the fall

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

The Town of Fort Frances is reminding residents that curbside recycling is cancelled until further notice due to the fire at the recycling depot in May.

The public and commercial compactors continue to operate on a 24/7 basis.

According to environmental superintendent Craig Miller in a release on the Town of Fort Frances: Official Facebook page, a request for tender is planned to be issued the first week of July for the construction of a new recycling depot.

“The goal is to award the tender at the August 14 council meeting,” Miller said. “It’s reusing the existing foundation and footings and it’s a stick-frame construction, probably 2×6 wood frame and then steel cladding for the outside.”

Once a tender has been awarded, the hope is that construction will take about a month after that.

Once a new recycling depot is built, curbside collection of recyclables will resume.

Miller made the Facebook post last week in an effort to clarify the confusion around curbside recycling. Many residents have continued to put their recycling out as scheduled when the Town has tried to advise people that curbside collection of recycling has stopped until further notice.

While curbside is not available, residents can bring recycling to the depot themselves and put it in the residential compactor.

In the Facebook post, Miller wrote that while the bins at the depot are available 24/7, it should be noted when the bins are full, they need to be changed out and an empty bin connected to the compactor. The Town’s contractor Green For Life Environmental Inc. (GFL) is notified that the bins need to be swapped and they come as soon as they are able to swap the bins. The recycling compactor gets temporarily closed with barricades when the compactors cannot take any more material.

Closures can also result from jams or other issues, the post says.

“On occasion, the public compactor jams up for a variety of reasons, often due to large boxes that aren’t broken down. Occasionally, there are other mechanical and electrical issues. When these unplanned issues occur, the Town will temporarily close the recycling compactor with barricades until the issues are resolved.”

To understand the reason that curbside recycling has not resumed, Miller included a description of how curbside recycling had been running up to the time of the fire:

The Town of Fort Frances has a contract with GFL (formerly Asselin’s) to collect both garbage and recyclables from curbsides throughout the town.

Garbage is normally collected weekly in the morning and dumped at the landfill, following the Area 1-5 collection schedules. Recyclables are normally collected bi-weekly in the afternoon following the Area 1-5 collection schedules and taken to the recycling depot — the building that burnt down.

Once full, GFL trucks go to the recycling depot and dump the recyclables in the building. This process would continue until all of the recyclables were collected for the day.

Businesses like furniture and appliance stores and business supply stores could also deliver their own recyclables directly to the depot.

Once a sufficient amount of recyclables was collected in the building, the Town would use a loader to transfer the material in the building to the commercial recycling compactor until the bin was full of compacted recyclables.

Once two bins were full — typically one public bin and one commercial bin — the Town’s recycling processing contractor, Emterra, sends a truck from Winnipeg and brings two empty bins and takes the two full, compacted bins to their recycling processing facility in Winnipeg. Before the fire, this happened on about a weekly basis.

It should be noted that both GFL, Asselin’s in the past, and Emterra have contracts with the Town, have worked with the Town for many years, and continue to work with the Town.

Because there is no recycling depot for GFL to dump the curbside collected recyclables into, the Town cannot resume curbside collection. Once the recycling depot is rebuilt, curbside collection will resume.

If the recyclables collected by GFL were simply dumped on the remaining foundation from the burned down building, the materials would blow all over, and if rained on, would make the paper based recyclables very difficult to handle.

GFL trucks are not able to dump recyclables directly into the commercial compactor, hence the need for the recycling building.

It is important to note that despite the recycling depot fire and the suspension of curbside collection, no contracts have been cancelled and no staff have been laid off or terminated. None of the recyclables collected in the compactors are being sent to the landfill. 100 per cent of the collected recyclables are going to the Emterra processing facility in Winnipeg.

The Town is now transferring two fully compacted bins to the Emterra recycling processing facility in Winnipeg approximately every 10 days instead of every seven days.

In the meantime, the public compactor will remain available to residents on 6th Street West, located between Wright Avenue and Webster Avenue.

In the meantime Miller suggests that neighbours help each other out and co-ordinate trips to the compactor on 6th St. to ensure most recycling gets where it needs to go rather than ending up in the landfill.