Auto recycler commended for its environmental record

Tyler Clarke
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An old commercial jingle sticks in Bruce Ehman’s head when it comes to recycling auto parts rather than allowing them into a landfill site.


“They’re used parts, but they’re not used-up parts,” he relayed, adding; “They’re road-tested -- They actually work!”

Such is the rationale at his business, Red Wing Auto Recyclers.

Located a few kilometres north of Prince Albert, Ehman’s business of 11 years was commended by the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council on Tuesday for boasting one of the province’s best environmental records for an auto recycler.

Environmental stewardship just makes sense, Ehman said with a shrug, lamenting the actions of some other auto wreckers in the province who do not adhere to regulations.

“Once we’re done in taking our fluids and everything, they crush the cars and haul them away and recycle the metal,” he explained.

“But, you see the trailers come in and they’re covered in oil that’s been leaking out of the vehicles that have been loaded, so obviously this stuff hasn’t been removed.”

There are many dangerous things in the average vehicle that the backyard mechanic should be cautious of, he said, citing gasoline, antifreeze, batteries, Freon, mercury, waste oil, lead wheel cables and battery cable ends as some.

“You don’t want to be destroying the area you live in,” he said, citing a mercury switch that turns the light on when you open a vehicle’s hood as a key contaminant.

“A small amount of mercury can contaminate a whole lake,” he noted.

Freon -- particularly the R12 Freon that’s found in older vehicles, is known for destroying the earth’s protective layer of ozone.

Red Wing Auto Recyclers either recycles or ships these dangerous parts and chemicals to various places throughout North America where they are properly disposed of.

Not all auto recyclers go through this sometimes time consuming and pricey process, Ehman said.

“A lot of places just let it go,” he said. “That’s not the right thing to do. They might say it’s just a little bit, but every little bit ads up.”

The average backyard mechanic or homeowner faces a similar dilemma, Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council executive director Joanne Fedyk said.

The Daily Herald caught up with Fedyk at the Prince Albert Travelodge on Tuesday during her organization’s daylong fall workshop.

Although facilities such as Red Wing Auto Recyclers are tapped into the North American hazardous waste disposal world, the average homeowner doesn’t really have an option for hazardous waste, she said.

“There’s no option for hazardous waste, not really,” she said. “No good one. If you throw it away, it goes to the landfill -- not a good thing. If you throw it down the drain, it goes in the water system -- not a good thing.”

This is why the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council is lobbying the provincial government to introduce a household hazardous waste program -- a “small part” of landfill waste, “but it’s the nastiest part.”


Landfill waste reduction

In addition to its adherence to environmental regulations, Red Wing Auto Wreckers diverts between 400 and 500 vehicles per year from the waste stream.

Landfill waste reduction is a key goal behind the fittingly titled Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council, Fedyk said, noting that the City of Prince Albert is about on par with the province as a whole.

A landfill has a set lifespan based on volumes coming into it, and the more product we can divert from that landfill, we’re going to increase the life of that landfill, which in turn is going to reduce costs to the City of Prince Albert. Coun. Martin Ring

The city’s July 2013 expansion to its curbside recycling program was a significant step, she said.

Click HERE for a City of Prince Albert recycling guide.

City blue bins can now include plastics and household metal (tin and aluminum cans) in addition to the paper and cardboards already accepted.

A major proponent behind the expansion was Coun. Martin Ring, who also serves as vice-chair of North Central Saskatchewan Waste Management Corp.

“A landfill has a set lifespan based on volumes coming into it, and the more product we can divert from that landfill, we’re going to increase the life of that landfill, which in turn is going to reduce costs to the City of Prince Albert,” he summarized.

“Landfills are not cheap entities to operate. There are a lot of environmental issues with them, there are lot of regulatory issues.”

Diverting plastics from the landfill site is significant, considering the fact that for all intents and purposes, plastics will never decompose.

There has been significant public buy-in with the city’s expanded recycling program, Ring said, noting that the level of recyclables being processed has been on the increase.

Between January and July of 2012, about 733.51 metric tonnes of recyclables were diverted from the landfill site.

Between this same time frame in 2014, the city’s recycling program diverted 889.88 metric tonnes of recyclables from the civic landfill site.

This represents a 21.3 per cent increase -- a figure expected to increase even more as the result of an autumn media blitz to remind city residents of what is now allowed in blue bins.

Glass products are not allowed in blue bins, though they can still be brought into SARCAN Recycling’s two Prince Albert locations for a refund.

“It would be nice to get a little more aggressive on glass and that sort of thing, but there just isn’t a place to put it right now -- to sell it or to haul it away,” Ring said.

However, he notes that last year’s significant expansion is a drastic improvement on waste reduction.

“It’s amazing, when you put your mind to it, what you can divert.”

In addition to its recycling program, the city has a summer yard trimmings pickup program for things such as small branches and leaves.


Recyclables diverted from the landfill site

(January to July)

2012 -- 733.51 metric tonnes

2013 -- 698.01 metric tonnes

2014 -- 889.88 metric tonnes

(Plastics and household metal introduced in July, 2013)



What’s in your garbage bin?

(According to the City of Prince Albert)

Food waste: 22 per cent

Paper products: 35 per cent

Yard waste: 15 per cent

Cans: 5 per cent

Glass: 5 per cent

Plastic, rubber, leather: 5 per cent

Cloth and textiles: 4 per cent

Wood: 3 per cent

Misc.: 6 per cent

Organizations: Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council, Daily Herald, North American North Central Saskatchewan Waste Management

Geographic location: Prince Albert, North America

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