WINNIPEG — Manitobans are recycling beverage containers at a record rate but the man spearheading the effort wants more.
Sixty-one per cent of pop cans, beer bottles, chocolate milk cartons and other vessels were recycled in the province last year, according to the Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association.
But Ken Friesen, its Winnipeg-based executive director, believes Manitobans can hit the CBCRA’s stated goal of 75 per cent.
“We’re very happy on a number of levels,” he said.
Friesen has no illusions that every person in the province will recycle every container but things have come a long way since 2011, when just 42 per cent of cans and bottles were tossed in blue bins.
(It would be impossible to track recycling if each bottle or can had to be individually counted, so CBCRA uses weight to come up with its figures).
Friesen credited his organization’s multi-pronged approach in changing consumer behaviour. First, it has invested heavily in awareness and promotion, including advertisements on television and on billboards about the baseball bats and airplane parts that can be made from recycled cans as well as other products. Secondly, it has made it as convenient as possible to recycle by placing more than 12,500 blue bins in schoolyards, parks, government buildings and businesses throughout the province last year.
“That’s part of why we have so many more bins out there. It takes a couple of years to catch on. As businesses and people see the bins, they say, ‘why don’t we have one in our business and our community?’” he said.
Friesen is getting some help from Bill Gould, president of WETT Sales & Distribution, which distributes beers such as Moosehead, Carlsberg and Samuel Adams in Manitoba.
He said his company recycles aluminum, glass, cardboard and plastic, including the containers for all of the beer it distributes. In particular, it picks out the proprietary green Moosehead bottles and sends them back to the brewery in New Brunswick to be washed and reused, all at a not insignificant cost.
“We’re environmentally conscious. We believe in handling our beer containers in a responsible way and recycling them. It’s the right thing to do.”
Friesen said he wants to hit the 75 per cent mark by the end of 2016.
“The last 10 per cent is always the hardest but we think we can do it within the next two-and-a-half years. We don’t need to stop there, though,” he said.
» Winnipeg Free Press