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Sun, sand... and recycling

Grand Beach introduces new waste initiative

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Grand Beach cottage owners tired of plastic-bottle bloom in public trash cans are the driving force behind a new area-wide recycling initiative.

At an outdoor event Wednesday at Grand Beach, Recycle Everywhere unveiled its new beverage container recycling program, which will add nearly 400 recycling bins to the Grand Beach area.

The program is the result of public demand from the Grand Beach Cottage Owners Association.

Carly Friesen, a board member with the association and a Grand Beach-area property owner, said residents were tired of the number of recyclable beverage containers ending up in public trash cans at the popular summer spot.

"The beach had always done an excellent job of providing a waste-management system along the beach areas, especially in the campground. But you know, people are out for the day and they're looking for convenient packaging like plastic bottles, and that's what they are purchasing. So the types of waste materials that were being found in the garbage were things that could be recycled easily," said Friesen.

The association partnered with local government and took their recycling concerns to Recycle Everywhere to develop the plan.

Ken Friesen, executive director of the Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association, said Grand Beach is just another example of a community initiating positive ecological change. The association is a not-for-profit organization that operates Recycle Everywhere.

"There were a few bins in the area there, not that they had absolutely none there. But they came forward and said 'We want to do this right,' " he said. "Generally speaking, it always looks best when it's from the grassroots, if you like, rather than being imposed on them by the top down. Rather than us trying to sell them on the idea, we're simply responding, saying 'yes, we've got as many free bins as appropriate for your area.' "

Ken Friesen said the association is conducting a pre-audit of waste materials from the area and, once all the bins have been in use for about a year, they will audit the materials again to gauge the program's effectiveness.

Mayor Steve Strang from the RM of St. Clements said he estimates the area can generate 1,000 recyclable beverage containers a day during the summer months.

Strang said this new recycling program is part of a larger initiative by St. Clements to minimize its ecological footprint. Grand Beach Provincial Park falls within the RM's boundaries.

The municipality is part of the Lake Friendly initiative, which is dedicated to protecting Lake Winnipeg's water.

Grand Beach Provincial Park also received the Blue Flag environmental certification in June. The certification is awarded to beaches and marinas that meet strict criteria for water quality, environmental education, environmental management and safety and services. It is one of only two freshwater beaches in Canada to earn the eco-label.

"What this recycling initiative is all about is local government trying to make the difference, too. We always depend and look towards our provincial partner to do that work," Strang said.

"We kind of feel like we have to either walk or talk. You can talk about a lot of things, but talk is only talk until you take action."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 23, 2012 A2

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