Recycling is about more than just bottles, cardboard, and paper

In celebration of Earth Day, Southcentre Mall is putting on a special recycling event

By Halen Kooper | April 20, 2022 |5:00 am

It takes an estimated 240 kgs of fossil fuels, five tons of water, and 22 kgs of chemicals to manufacture one brand new computer, which is why recycling electronics properly is important.

Photo: Shutterstock

Everyone knows the importance of recycling but they might not be aware that you can recycle materials other than paper and bottles. 

On April 23, Southcentre Mall is hosting an Earth Day recycling drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. where Calgarians can recycle materials other than the typical paper, cardboard, and bottles. 

The mall has partnered with Federal Metals and Village Electronic Recycling (VER) to offer people an opportunity to recycle metal and electronics. 

The dangers of electronics ending up in your blue bin 

VER founder Matthew Bladek says that the Earth Day recycling drive is a great way to help the environment right here in our city. 

“I love being of service to the people here. Calgary is a very green city,” he says. “The identity of Calgary is really connected to the mountains and our parks.” 

VER specializes in recycling electronics such as computers, hard drives, and printers, which if not recycled properly can lead to major issues in landfills.

In 2020, Canada’s contribution to global e-waste via discarded electronics was upwards of 877 million kilograms and only 20 per cent of that waste was appropriately recycled. 

“If you take a computer and you just throw it in the dump, there’s going to be mercury, there’s going to be nickel leaking out into the groundwater,” Bladek says. “Batteries are a big part of our business, they are very volatile, they can kill people, they can hurt people.”

Metals don’t belong in the landfills 

Leslie Kraatz, who owns Federal Metals, will also be at the Earth Day drive accepting scrap metal of all types.

Metal is one of the most recyclable materials with numerous benefits, yet only 32 per cent of metal is recycled. North Americans throw away enough aluminum every three months to rebuild the UK’s entire commercial air fleet. 

As someone who has been the head of a recycling company that’s been in business since the ’50s, Kraatz says she knows how important it is to keep metal out of the landfills, which ultimately keeps costs down. 

“Not only will the landfills be full and overflowing with waste, but also the cost of everything would go up dramatically,” she says. “It would be unaffordable to even buy a metal chair if we didn’t have recycled metal because everything would have to be mined from its original state.”

Kraatz says that recycling is an important part of the community because it diverts waste and provides people with a way to handle their waste beyond throwing it in the garbage.

“It gives them a solution for their waste,” she says. “Not only do we take their products, but we also pay them for it. So it’s a little bit of a bonus.”

It’s all about the environment at the end of the day 

It’s also important to Kraatz to teach people and children environmental awareness.

“It’s my belief that bringing environmental awareness to people, as much as we can, is important,” she says. “It’s excellent to have a day like Earth Day that highlights that. Especially for kids. It’s a great opportunity to teach them things in school so they can be exposed to it.”

Bladek agrees with Kraatz that it’s important to bring awareness to how people can take care of the environment.

“We only get one environment and we have to take care of that,” Bladek says. “Earth Day is great because it brings awareness to people that the environment is something that we need to be conscious of.”

Southcentre’s event helps raise awareness 

In addition to the recycling drive, there will also be a recycling art centre that will feature eco-friendly crafts facilitated by artist and biologist, Elizabeth Romo Rábago.

Throughout the day, guests to the mall will be able to explore recycling-centric activities with the Earth Day learning hub.

“As a community-minded shopping centre, we believe we have a role to play in promoting and facilitating initiatives that will protect and preserve both our local community and our planet,” Alexandra Velosa says of the upcoming event. 

“Recycling and upcycling directly contribute to a circular economy that reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, prevents pollution caused by the collection of new raw materials, conserves natural resources, saves energy and so much more.” 

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Halen Kooper

Halen Kooper is a contributor at Calgary Citizen.

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