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Waste Diversion Project Outlined to Council

Winkler City Council received an overview of SWAMP's Waste Diversion Implementation Plan Tuesday night. Launched in January the project's goal is to reduce the amount of waste entering the landfill by 50% within the next three years. Altona's Jessica Klassen, a Red River College student, has been hired for the summer to initiate the plan.

SWAMP is a class one landfill owned by Morden, Winkler, and RM of Stanley, and is located northeast of Winkler.

"My only job is to lay the groundwork for the next two years coming up, and I think a huge factor in that is raising awareness," noted Klassen during an interview after her presentation. "I don't think people realize the impact they make, and everyone does makes a difference, and the public is a huge contributor to the landfill, so definitelyJessica Klassen gives her presentation at Tuesday night's city council meeting raising awareness and letting everyone know what our plan is so they all can contribute."

A study conducted by Lavalin in 2010 showed up to 80% of the material entering SWAMP doesn't need to be there because it's recyclable. The document also showed the approximately 32,000 people who use SWAMP send on average about 24,470 tonnes of waste to the landfill each year.

"I think that's a huge, huge problem," said Klassen. "If you think of the big picture, instead of digging a new cell for new waste, we can cut that waste. So it's becoming a really big problem, especially with the population increasing and businesses going up that are not taking proper recycling initiatives."

Klassen believes there are a number of fairly easy to target areas where significant improvements can be made. "The paper that businesses use that ends up in the garbage, because it is a convenience factor and sometimes they don't have all the resources available," explained Klassen. "Food waste is a huge thing too for restaurants and businesses, so I really hope to contact them and talk to them about what they currently do and how it could be improved."

During her presentation to council Klassen noted she doesn't expect to see immediate results, because the project is focusing on long-term change. In order to make any of that possible there will need to be significant community participation and buy-in, something she's hopeful will occur. It's SWAMP's intention, by 2016, it could be in a position to reject recyclable loads due to the number of alternatives available to the public.

"The big picture is everyone in the public, that being general residents, local businesses, and businesses such as construction companies, can make little changes to how they do their business day to day that will make a huge impact," said Klassen. "I really hope we can come up with solutions that will make recycling easy, but also really effective within the community, and hopefully we'll see a big difference in that being slowing down what is entering the landfill."

In the coming weeks Klassen will also be giving her presentation to Morden and RM of Stanley councils.


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