Save Your Strata Thousands by Becoming a Recycling Ambassador

When Mel Matychuk was growing up in the prairies, living “green” was not exactly top of mind. Back then, he says, it was commonplace to throw litter on the ground or out the window of a car. Fast forward to today, however, and Matychuk has become a champion for reducing, reusing, and recycling.

Recycling Ambassadors

Township of Langley Recycling Ambassador Mel Matychuk (right) and has recruited other volunteers within his Yorkson condominium in Willoughby and worked to save their strata council $10,000 by switching to municipal recycling pick up.

Shortly after moving into his Willoughby condominium a year and a half ago, Matychuk spotted an opportunity to help the environment and reduce the building’s operating costs. The complex was receiving private garbage, organics, and recycling pickup, but a quick call to the Township of Langley confirmed private recycling pickup was unnecessary, as all multi-family residences in the Township are eligible for municipal recycling collection at no additional cost. Simply by switching to municipal recycling, Matychuck says, the strata council saved $10,000 on collection costs in its first year.

Matychuk admits sorting waste into several streams – organics, containers, paper, glass, and garbage – was a learning curve for some of his fellow residents. Some were familiar with sorting their waste, while others did not know how or see the value in doing so – yet. Undeterred, Matychuk reached out to the Township’s Solid Waste team, who enrolled him in the Recycling Ambassador program. The team guided him in setting up a multi-family recycling area, shared signage resources, and provided him tote bags to distribute to each unit to help residents carry their recyclables downstairs.

Matychuk’s persistence paid off: in only one year, he and his neighbours sorted 34,577 refundable recycling items from the buildings’ bins, dropped them off at the recycling depot, and received nearly $3,000 in returns. The windfall was put into the condominium’s social fund and has supported décor items and get-togethers, and will help fund future projects such as a bike room.

These days about 85% of the building’s non-refundable waste is sorted correctly, Matychuk estimates. With time, he expects the number will only get better. In fact, the amount of actual garbage has dwindled so much that one garbage receptacle was deemed unnecessary and removed, a testament to how well recycling helps divert waste from landfills with only a little effort.

Seeing the results encouraged Matychuk and his fellow volunteers to turn the building’s waste room into a functional recycling centre. They’ve added buckets for items headed to the depot,  take turns keeping it clean, and help sort items placed in the wrong bins. “It’s a team effort,” Matychuk says, “but it means something. After all, this is our home and we all need to do our part.”

Residents inspired by Matychuk’s success who are interested in becoming a Recycling Ambassador can visit tol.ca/ambassador for sign up details. While most multi-family buildings in the Township are utilizing municipal recycling pickup, there are still several outliers. If you are unsure whether your building is receiving private recycling collection, check with your strata council. Buildings not receiving municipal recycling pickup can call 604-532-7300 for service.

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