For immediate release
October 18, 2005
Regional District Helps BC Access Centre Launch "Total Office" Recycling and Composting Program in Courtenay
The Regional District of Comox-Strathcona (RDCS) is working with the employees and staff of the BC Access Centre in Courtenay to launch a “Total Office” recycling and composting program.
This initiative, led by a team of BC Access Centre staff and guided by waste reduction staff at the regional district, takes basic office recycling to the next level by replacing staff garbage cans with mini recycling centres, and creating a lunchroom compost program complete with outdoor composter. Waste reduction staff at the RDCS helped BC Access get their program started by talking to employees, answering composting questions, and acting as a general resource for technical questions. The launch of this program coincides with national Waste Reduction Week, October 17 to 23, 2005.
Kathy Evans, team leader, explains the background for launching the program: “I visited our Aquaculture Development office in Victoria and saw all the office garbage cans had been replaced by mini recycle bins on the desks. A mandatory recycling program had been implemented where staff had to empty their own bins at a recycle centre in the lunchroom. It made sense to us here in Courtenay. We tell our kids to recycle and we recycle at home, so why don’t we do it at work?”
Goals of the Program
- To move beyond just recycling cardboard and office paper to plastics and organic wastes.
- To raise awareness among employees about how people consume, whether this is at work or at home.
- To be a model for other offices; expand to neighboring offices by inspiring them to follow suit.
- To not just recycle but reduce what is used or purchased in the first place. For example, to reduce the number of people who drive to work; add a bike room in three years.
Challenges They Faced
The greatest challenges faced by Evans and the team were technical: locating the appropriate type and size of containers, arranging for pick up services, and finding an outdoor place to put the composter.
There were also questions about whether the program would be a success. To help increase the chance of it working, Evans created an office recycling team made up of herself, Terry Nielsen, Wendy Day, Michael Goodhelpsen and Laurie Smith.
Advice to Other Offices
- Have a transition period: introduce the recycle station but don’t remove garbage cans from people’s offices for a couple of weeks. People want to recycle; it’s a matter of making it easy for them to do it under working conditions.
- Visit a business or office that is already set up and have a look.
- Stay informed about recycling information. Things change. For example there is no need to take labels off of containers; many more types of paper can be recycled now that couldn’t be recycled before.
- Get help from the regional district: Echo Hiebert, Waste Reduction Coordinator at the RDCS helped BC Access get their program started by talking to employees, answering composting questions, and acting as a general resource for technical questions.
- Do a quick measure of how much garbage is going to the landfill before the program starts; this will provide a baseline measurement with which to compare your recycling progress.
Results of the Program
After one month of testing the program, over 90% of office members are taking part. Evans and her team aim to have 100% compliance by the end of the year. She notes that the most noticeable thing has been the removal of the large garbage cans in each office. “The janitors like that for sure. Yes, we’re asking people to change, but once you get in the habit of recycling it feels good to be doing your part.”
About BC Access
The BC Access Centre is home to the Government Agent’s Office, the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands and the Justice Services Branch of the Ministry of Attorney General.
About the Regional District of Comox-Strathcona
The Regional District of Comox-Strathcona is a partnership of nine electoral areas and eight municipalities providing nearly 100,000 residents with over 140 services–from parks to full-service sports facilities to regional solid waste systems.
Manager, Operational Communications
Regional District of Comox-Strathcona
Tel: (250) 334-6037