Tri-R Recycling closes the loop

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 04/97) - Northern consumers could soon be paying -- and collecting -- a deposit on all pop containers if Tri-R Recycling owner Greg Rowe of Hay River gets his way.

"Our local MLA has brought it to the legislative assembly. The next step is for me to give my thoughts on it to Mr. (Stephen) Kakfwi," Rowe said in a recent interview, adding that he hopes to meet with the resources minister in the fall.

"And we'd like to offer the consumer the full deposit back on beer bottles. I've written to the NWT Liquor Commission about it."

Rowe suggests that the Liquor Commission drop the Alberta Brewer's distributing deposit, then put on its own deposit, so that Tri-R can pay consumers the full $1.20 (per dozen beer bottles). Then they can utilize trucks at a better rate for back-hauling the bottles.

"The consumers would get a better deal in that they can get (all) their money back on the deposits," he said.

The other option is to implement a handling fee, then we could pay the consumer the $1.20 (per dozen beer bottles). The Liquor Commission was to meet with Molson and Labatt breweries regarding deposits, but Rowe said he doesn't see the beer companies pouncing on the idea.

Tri-R Recycling is located in Hay River's liquor warehouse on Industrial Drive. And it's expanding to include newsprint and cardboard.

"We started paper destruction in October," said Rowe. "We've invested over $100,000 with the building expansion and equipment for recycling and bottle depot expansion," he explained. "We save from the landfill 200 tonnes of paper products per year," he said.

To date his company has shipped 40 bales (at 450 kilograms per bale) of paper and cardboard to Edmonton.

"There are now two full-time employees handling the bottle depot and one doing shredding and baling of the paper products. Tri-R also accepts cardboard on a drop-off basis."

"We're trying to arrange a service contract for the South Slave region, to tie in Fort Simpson and Fort Smith," Rowe said. "But we haven't had any luck with that at all. We haven't given up on it, but we've been busy this summer and government staff are on holidays."

The cost of pickup and shredding is built into the private company's fee structure. The actual paper recycling is done in Edmonton.

"At this point, the market value for recycled paper is very low. And there's no recycle depot for pop containers. So we shred them and make scrap aluminum that's shipped south with beer bottles."

"We refund 80 cents to the consumer on a dozen bottles ... we'd like to pay the full $1.20, but we have carrying costs, freight costs and handling."

Bottle deposits help subsidize the recycling market, through back-haul for the paper recycling.

"We tried recycling glass and got $15 a tonne. Bags cost $40 a bag. So we stopped that and now we grind it fairly fine and used it for gravel fill. So far, it's just construction people using it."

"We originally thought we could sand the streets with it, but it would be more expensive than the natural sand," Rowe said.

"We'd like to get it fine enough for sandblasting and find a marketable way to sell the product. They have done it in the States."

The Inuvik Bottle Depot owners, Gord and Bertha Campbell, offered some friendly advice on how to use the crushed glass, he said. Rowe said he knew them when they used to live in Hay River.

An expansion of 180 square metres added onto the warehouse is now complete. "We hope to add a few new products each year," Rowe said.