Sarah Sankey at the Discovery Child Care Centre with upcycled rubber boots.

Sarah Sankey at the Discovery Child Care Centre with upcycled rubber boots.

Recycle and ‘upcycle’ comes to Prince Rupert

Being green on the North Coast just got a little easier

Being green on the North Coast just got a little easier.

The Discovery Child Care Centre on Prince Rupert Boulevard is now a designated drop-off point for people to leave recyclables that are made of mixed plastics, which require expensive recycling methods. The North Coast, among other regions in Canada, doesn’t have the infrastructure to recycle these plastics so they end up in the landfill.

For 10 years the daycare centre has participated with competitions organized by TerraCycle, an international recycling company that works with over 100 brands. The competitions are based on what companies are willing to sponsor and participants, such as the child care centre, get money for every item they return.

This February, the Discovery Child Care Centre became the only public drop-off centre for TerraCycle along the North Coast. The next closest drop-off site is in Prince George.

The centre collects the tops of spray bottles from cleaners, foil cracker wrappers, Lunchable containers, food squeeze pouches, cereal bags, canon or HP ink cartridges. In the past they have collected diaper and wipe packaging and even broken down laptops.

The acting manager for the child care centre, Sarah Sankey, said prior to becoming an official TerraCycle drop-off centre they sent recyclable request lists to parents and friends.

“Before it was mostly through word of mouth from staff and families,” Sankey said.

Now, the centre is open for public drop-offs from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. From now until the end of April the centre is competing in the Air and Home Care Brigade. It is part of the Febreze Frenzy Contest that requests people bring in any brand of air-fresher and all the packaging it comes in, as well as kitchen cleaners, spray bottle or soap lids or any kind of cleaning lid.

The top three winners share a $5,000 prize from charity donations.

Director of TerraCycle’s public relations, Lauren Taylor, said that recently they were able to open up to public locations, meaning that anyone participating in their competitions can be a drop off centre.

“TerraCycle is basically a recycling company. We deal with hard to recycle items, like air and home care product packaging, drink pouches, toothpaste tubes, all these things that just aren’t economically feasible to recycle locally, usually,” Taylor said.

TerraCycle then partners with companies to recycle the product by separating the items as needed, removing leftover residue and melting it down to plastic. Recycled plastics are used to make things like park benches or even stretchy yoga pants. Another method they use is “up” cycling, which means that the product’s life is expanded. For example, if a drink pouch is cleaned and used as a tote bag.

“Companies pay us to be a solution for its packaging for the end of its life,” Taylor said. “We melt the materials into a plastic, extrude it into pellet form and we can sell it to companies that want to use recycled plastic in their products.”

Prince Rupert doesn’t have a curb-side recycling pickup and most people have to bring their own recycling to the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional Recycling Depot. The Superintendent of Waste Management, Tim Deschamps, said that new provincial guidelines in 2014 prevent certain materials from being recycled at the depot.

“Certain products just aren’t under the B.C. program or the producer of those products choose not to be involved or they have certain material they don’t have the infrastructure or the know how to recycle,” Deschamps said.