The Portage Rotary Club received insight into the ever expanding recycling industry when Chris Tompkins from Portage & District Recycling Inc. (PDRI) spoke at a lunch meeting, Tuesday.
Tompkins took over the role of CEO of PDRI in March from Ferdi van Dongen and had seen its reach continue to grow since his arrival.
“Portage Recycling is a private contractor and what we do is we contract with municipalities, such as the City and Rural Municipality of Portage, to offer them recycling collection and processing,” said Tompkins. “Everything we collect ends up being made back into new material.”
For those in the city curb side collection is available while others are able to take their recyclables to depots where it is picked up and then sorted and processed from the Portage la Prairie plant.
“Between our three sites Portage, Dauphin, and Virden we cover from the Saskatchewan border, to the North Dakota border, up to Lake Winnipegosis, and as far east as Portage. There is only a couple of places, Brandon being one of them, we don’t service, but we service the rest,” said Tompkins.
Since March PDRI has picked up a number of other communities to further expand its reach.
“Since I came in on March 1 we’ve picked up seven or eight different communities in the area, and it represents probably a 20 per cent increase in volume of material we’re handling as a company,” said Tompkins. “The staff is pretty excited about the growth, they’re pretty excited about how busy we are, and they take their jobs all pretty seriously. They are a great group of folks and it is exciting to see the company continuing to grow.”
Also, over the last number of years the industry has expanded to include recycling of products such as electronics, oil based and latex paints, batteries, and fluorescent lights.
“We collect paint – both oil based and latex paint – and they are processed. The oil based paint is turned into a fuel which helps preserve natural resources, of course, and the latex paint is processed back into lower grade latex paint that is sold in developing countries to help those people afford to be able to buy paint. That’s a pretty cool thing to have,” said Tompkins.
Both electronics and batteries are broken down into their basic components and the repurposed to make other products and batteries.
“Florescent lights are great, they last forever, but for a long time there was nothing to do with them but throw them in the garbage. We now recycle those. The mercury is reclaimed and they are made into new lights,” said Tompkins.
This has now been expanded to not only happen in the Portage la Prairie plant but in PDRI’s other plants as well.
“We just signed up our Virden and Dauphin facilities to collect paint and lights, they have never done that up there before. That’s going to start in the next couple of weeks so those parts of the province will be able to do that,” said Tompkins.
For Tompkins the goal of Portage Recycling over the next couple of years is to educate individuals living in their existing markets about recycling rather than continuing to expand into more communities.
“There aren’t a whole lot of different communities we can touch now that logistically make sense. But what we hope to do is educate those communities on here’s what you can recycle. If we take ‘x’ number of tonnes from the city of Portage today, let’s double that next year by getting more people involved, getting more people recycling,” said Tompkins. “Ultimately our goal is to keep product out of landfill and the more we can do that, the better we are.”