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There's money in those cans

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Wednesday, August 8, 2007

RANKIN INLET - The municipality of Rankin Inlet has accepted a $50,000 contract from the Nunavut government's Department of the Environment to run a pilot project for recycling in the community.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Gord MacCallum loads the cooler with pop at the Kativik store in Rankin Inlet this past week. Residents in the community will be able to get 5 cents per can when a recycling pilot program begins on Aug. 14. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

People in Rankin will be able to collect beverage containers and bring them to the hamlet for an incentive fee.

The containers will be stored for the winter while the hamlet examines its options to ship them to the south.

Almost every type of container except for Tetra juice packs and milk jugs will be eligible for the 5-cent-per-container payment, including aluminum cans and plastic and glass bottles.

Hamlet SAO Paul Waye said $37,000 of the contract is allocated for the incentive fees.

He said about 740,000 containers will be turned in if the entire $37,000 is paid out, which represents about 30 per cent of the hamlet's annual consumption.

The remaining $13,000 will go towards running the program, including hiring a part-time worker specifically for the project.

"There's about four million aluminum cans consumed in Rankin per year," said Waye.

"That breaks down to about 2.5 million pop cans and about 1.5 million beer cans.

"Cape Dorset had about 1,000 people when I was there with the Northern store in the early '90s, and we were bringing in about 1.5-million cans of pop per year.

"There's an incredibly high amount, per capita, of pop consumed every year in Nunavut."

The cans will be returned to the hamlet's six-bay garage where they'll be stored in two shipping containers.

The program starts on Aug. 14 in Nunavut's three regional centres of Rankin, Iqaluit and Cambridge Bay.

Waye said his main concern with the project is the lack of money allocated for shipping the cans to the south.

He said that could be included in a second contract if the pilot project is successful.

"This is a money-losing project in one sense, but, hopefully, the cost of getting the containers down south will be reasonable for getting that much garbage out of the community.

"The government asked us for a proposal on doing this on a full-time basis, which came in at about $500,000 to $600,000, including the initial setup to do everything properly.

"That number was a bit high for the government to commit to at this point."

Waye said a number of variables will determine if the project is a success.

He said if people buy in and continually bring back containers, it will succeed.

"We also need to figure out a way to get the stuff out of the community at a reasonable enough rate to make it sustainable.

"That would be a long-term success and we'd be able to move forward.

"Those are the main issues for this to be a success."