In 1970, Bob Cordoni, a member of the local SPEC (Society for the Promotion of Environmental Conservation) group, went to the very first Earth Day Celebrations in Victoria. He returned from that pivotal gathering excited about a new idea – recycling. Their enthusiasm spread, and a group of SPEC members formed a special committee to explore recycling locally.
In 1972, recycling began in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. Far ahead of many other municipalities, these committed volunteers, including Beryl Cunningham, Candace Gordon and Julie & Dave Koehn, forged partnerships with local manufacturers, developed a system to sort and ship recycled materials, promoted the idea of recycling to local residents, and began collecting newspaper, glass, and tin cans in a backyard shed in Hammond.
At that time, most people just threw everything in the garbage. SPEC members worked with the District of Maple Ridge to acquire space at the Cottonwood Landfill to set up the first Maple Ridge Recycling Depot in 1974. Locating the depot next to the landfill was strategic – it was a constant reminder that not everything needed to be thrown away, and it helped educate people about what items were recyclable.
In 1976, the depot had grown to the point where volunteers could no longer do it all themselves, and our first part-time employee was hired.
In 1980, building on our successes, multi-material curbside collection began in Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows. In 1981, the committee members realized that the recycling movement had outgrown SPEC and voted to create a separate organization, the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society.
Ridge Meadows Recycling Society continued to be ahead of the curve and gained notoriety as a leader in recycling. In 1987, the GVRD (Greater Vancouver Regional District, now Metro Vancouver) awarded us the first of three awards for significant contributions to recycling.
In 1990, the current Recycling Depot was built at 10092 – 236th Street, Maple Ridge, just off River Road in the Albion Industrial Park. Custom-designed for collection, public drop-off, office space, and intermediate processing, the new depot enabled the curbside recycling blue box program to start in 1992 and won us the BC Minister’s Environmental Award in 1993. This was also the year Ridge Meadows Recycling Society (RMRS) distributed its first 1500 compost bins to provide a backyard solution to diverting organic materials from the landfill.
Any new item that is added to our “recyclable” list must have a manufacturer willing to accept our product. By 2000, the plastics industry had reached a point where it was viable to add plastics recycling to our blue box pickup and depot programs. Electronics such as TVs & computers were added to our depot recycling program in 2007 and milk cartons were added to both our blue box pickup and depot programs in 2008.
In 2002 we celebrated our 30th Anniversary with an Open House at the Recycling Depot. A year earlier we started integrating the idea of moving “Toward Zero Waste” and in 2003, found out through a survey that a whopping 96% of residents recycle! Throughout the years, our community involvement included participating at various events and in 2005, we lead the organization of Earth Day celebrations at the ACT.
Our tonnage went up by 9% in 2004 when we expanded our blue box pickup route eastward to 256th Street and in 2009, we completely re-designed our route maps and pickup schedules to make them more streamlined and easier to communicate to residents. To see a map of blue box pickup days, click here.
As we take on more items for recycling through the expansion of EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) programs, and manufacturers develop new methods and innovations for recycling products, communicating what is and isn’t recyclable continues to be a challenge. Through EPR programs, we now accept all electronics and accessories, batteries, CFL lightbulbs, oil and oil containers, paint and paint containers, and more. Click to download The A to Z of things to bring – January, 2013, a list of items accepted at the Maple Ridge Recycling Depot. Items newly recycled through EPR programs include CD & DVD discs & cases (program began Summer, 2012) and packaging & printed paper. The latter covers everything collected in the curbside blue box program and we anticipate changes to our system when the program begins in upcoming years.