The great Green Bottle Depot
I have always dreaded going to our recycling depot in downtown Fort McMurray. Typically, I let the pop cans, crushed milk containers, and wine bottles pile up until some community group doing a fundraiser comes by to pick them up or I simply run out of room and am forced to do something.
To be honest, if there was a nonprofit organization out there that embraced the recycling opportunity and invited people to sign up to have their bottles and cans picked up on a regular basis, foregoing any of the deposit return dollars they generate, I would sign up immediately. As we are no longer big consumers of alcohol or pop products, we would probably only need three or four pick-ups a year, but each of those would likely result in $40 or $50 at the depot. I wonder how many others would sign up for this service if given the chance?
The recycling depot that we've been going to for the past 15 years is located downtown. Dark, foreboding, dirty, this facility has seen better days. We would show up with garbage bags and boxes, pre-sorted to make the required time inside as short as possible.
Throwing our hips at the swinging double doors, arms laden with as much as we could carry, our first task would be to find an empty receiving station. Once that was found, we'd have to rush back out to the vehicle to grab another arm load or two. Unsorted recyclables would get dumped on a draining table, black with layers of beverage residue and years of use and abuse. From there we would have to sort and count into pre-ordained amounts and containers. Even with a modest load, you were going to be in there for 20-30 minutes and you were going to feel dirty by the time you were done, from your head to your toes, but especially your hands.
I'm not sure if it was an ad that I saw or a Facebook page that I tumbled across, but something inspired me to give the Green Bottle Depot a try yesterday morning. It had opened earlier this year and was touted to represent the new (and better) way of doing a recycling business. I was enormously encouraged after asking my Facebook peeps for their thoughts on the facility and the experience of using it.
"It is an amazing place!" said one person. "Pleasant people, clean and fast. My boys love going there."
"Great, fast, clean and excellent staff," shared another.
"Enjoy the clean, green experience."
"Top notch, great customer service, excellent, fast, efficient, polite and friendly employee. Super clean."
The picture was becoming very clear, that the recycling world had gotten a whole lot better since the last time I cleaned out all the bottles and cans.
The first question you might ask if you've never been there is where it is located. That popped up on Facebook yesterday afternoon.
The Green Bottle Depot is located in the TaigaNova Eco Park on the east side of Highway 63, north of the soon-to-be-completed Timberlea interchange.
Take a right on TaigaNova Crescent, then a left following the crescent to the north, then left on to 170 Boreal Avenue.
When you get there, your first thought might be where to park. Park anywhere that is open. They have these wonderful blue bins on wheels (parked just to the left of their main entrance doors) that you can use to load up your recyclables. Ben and I had a vehicle full of boxes and garbage bags, which took up about a bin and a half. Yes, they are big bins! They are also easy to roll up through the automatic double doors into the residential customer receiving area (they have a separate receiving area for fundraising groups and businesses).
With multiple sorting stations, we didn't have any waiting to do. We pulled up and began dumping our bags while a Green Bottle Depot employee did all the counting and all the sorting. It was brilliant.
To be fair, we had 90 percent of our cans, bottles and containers presorted which likely shortened up the in-and-out time. We were done in under 10 minutes, deposit money in hand, heading back home on Highway 63.
It is the "Beverly Hilton of recycling depots," I said to one person later that day. Clean, super-efficient, uncomplicated, bright -- it is all the things that its competitor down the road is not. The fog of fear over recycling has lifted and I'm actually looking forward to the next visit.