Recycling made easy less difficult

Illustration by Elling Lien

I know, I know: You really want to recycle those freakin’ newspapers and these friggin’ cereal boxes and that flippin’ infinite stream of yogurt containers. But this whole “environment comes last” attitude exuded by, well, every level of government in the province makes it so much easier to just toss it all in the garbage. And since almost everyone else throws theirs away, maybe yours won’t be so noticeable in the Robin Hood Bay landfill. How will anyone know it’s your old Commodore 64 in there, right?

Wrong. Every little bit counts. Here’s a rundown of some of the recycling options available to you here in the city.

By Sarah Smellie

The Easy Way
Indeed, the simplest way of all is to pay for curbside pick-up. Atlantic Blue Recycling has been on the go for about 14 years and they’ll gladly zoom over to your place to pick up your recyclables—cans, bottles, paper, plastic, everything—for the low, low price of $19.53 a month.

The real catch? Every second week, they ship the ten tonnes of waste they collect 1,300 kilometers via transport truck to be processed in P.E.I. So it’s not exactly what you’d call a carbon-neutral solution.

The Transport-It-Yourself Way
If you have the means, be it a car or a healthy set of legs and a sturdy rucksack, there are many places around the city that will relieve you of your recyclables.

You can cart your used beverage containers to one of the many so-called Green Depots around the city. Each one is its own private business. (The closest one to downtown is Ever Green Recyling at 92 Elizabeth Avenue.) They’ll refund all the deposits on your wine, beer and juice bottles too, so you’ll walk away with cold, hard cash in your hands.

Unfortunately, they all ship their collected goodies to P.E.I. too.

If you happen to be traipsing around the downtown or Churchill Square areas of town with a newspaper and/or paper cup, feel free to deposit them in the appropriate slots of an OMG bin, over fifty of which dot the city. OMG Atlantic is another Nova Scotia-based company and, according to their General Manager Jeff Clements, they set up their boxes here, free of charge, in 2002, as a compliment to the curbside recycling program that the city had just started talking about. “Well, six years later, there’s still no recycling program,” he sighs. “But that’s really what they’re for—a compliment to curbside recycling.”

In other words, don’t dump a week’s worth of your recycling into those bin. Used properly though, each OMG box diverts a half of a tonne of waste per year and they send everything they can over to Scotia. (That’s right, the two companies from outside the province are the two companies processing inside the province.)

The E-Waste Way
“E-waste” refers to electronic devices which are either discarded or about to be discarded and the bulk of it is made up of old computers. Until recently, the only real option for getting rid of this stuff was a landfill, but as of this April, Matthew Della Valle has incorporated his group Technology For The People ( and is ready to take it all off your hands. He and a few associates build new computers from old ones, and sell them for 50 to 75 bucks a pop to community organizations and low income individuals. He and his team will also train people to use them, free of charge. “We’re not just there to recycle, we’re bringing computer literacy by training people to use these machines,” he says. “That could help them get jobs or just be more independent.”

He also makes lamps out of old CDs, stringing LED lights through stacks of them. “It gives off this amazing ambient light,” he marvels.

The Best Way
Plant stuff. In anything. Old two litre pop bottles, with the tops trimmed, will hold herbs, which grow all year round in a kitchen window. Old buckets and bins, with holes cut in the bottom, will hold zucchinis, tomatoes, flowers, ferns, whatever. Use bits of newspaper and colorful glass for mulch and you’ve got yourself some love.

And hey, plants recycle air, so you’re golden!

Have any other suggestions or know of any other locations to recycle? Leave a comment below.


  1. Geoff · October 15, 2013

    Funny that PEI is processing all our pop bottles considering they have banned plastic bottles, it’s glass bottles only on the other island province.

  2. Sarah · October 15, 2013

    Interesting. I know that P.E.I. just removed a ban on selling pop in tin cans, but I haven’t been able to find anything about a plastic bottle ban. Is dish soap, shampoo, sunscreen, etc now in glass bottles?

  3. Geoff · October 15, 2013

    Originally in the 70’s it was just cans that were banned but they later expanded it to plastic bottles as well. But as you say they have just removed the ban on both and are introducing a blue box system, which to my mind seems less “green” than refillable glass bottles. The beer industry manages, why not pop bottlers?
    Here’s a good little CBC story on the PEI law:

  4. Geoff · October 15, 2013

    Sorry, it wasn’t the 70’s it was 1984 when the law was introduced.

  5. Sarah · October 15, 2013

    That does seem strange, especially since they’re so proud of their earth friendliness. I’m wondering if they thought that they needed the extra plastic and tin from the beverage containers in circulation to justify the cost of the blue box system…?
    At any rate, they’re still lightyears ahead of most provinces and I wish they’d send someone over here to help us out. I was there two years ago and they had compost, recycling and garbage bins in Tim freaking Horton’s. It was a beautiful sight.

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