December 2017

Manitoba Chamber of Commerce

Issue link: http://publications.winnipegfreepress.com/i/907645

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Page 41 of 47

42 december 2017 FLIN FLON & DISTRICT ENVIRONMENTAL COUNCIL BY DAVID SQUARE The local landfill was awash in recyclable waste until a group of environmentalists formed a non-profit organization to provide information and recycling programs to Flin Flon and the surrounding area. Deb Odegaard, program administrator of the Flin Flon & District Environmental Council (FFDEC), since 2013, was a government employee in 1992 when she volunteered to work part-time with the newly minted organization. "At that time, we focused on newspaper collection. With the help of Gardewine, a local trucking company, we filled a semi- trailer with 13 tonnes of newspaper in four days, all of which would have ended up in the local landfill," she says. Growth was slow but steady. The organization became firmly established with financial input from the Manitoba Stewardship Program, the City of Flin Flon, the neighbouring town of Creighton, Sask., and an anonymous donor who co-signed a loan to enable FFDEC to purchase a building at 9 Timber Lane, where it remains to the present. "We derive some income by renting about half of the building to a local business," says Odegaard, adding that corrugated cardboard sales were also a source of income in the early years. In 2005, the cardboard market collapsed, but FFDEC processed a record 455 tonnes of recyclables, including drink containers, milk jugs, paper and egg cartons. The infrastructure and machinery to accomplish this feat was accumulated gradually, largely through volunteer fundraising events. The economic crisis of 2008 slowed down the operation and, in 2009, revenue for sales of commodities dropped so severely that the FFDEC had to pay mills to accept some materials. "We required emergency funding to survive the year," Odegaard says, noting the City of Flin Flon increased its support from about $48,000 to almost $54,000 and Creighton's contribution skyrocketed from $4,000 to $12,000, or $8 per capita. "It was a dire time for us, but I think the fact that people were willing to pay a surtax of $8 to $9 to support the continuation of FFDEC speaks well for our reputation and for how important recycling has become in the minds of citizens and business leaders." Happily, the FFDEC recovered along with the economy, and it has continued to grow, operating a program to collect and properly dispose of hazardous household materials and, since 2012, a year-round e-waste recycling service, in cooperation with the Electronics Products Recycling Association. "We are paid per tonne of e-waste," says Odegaard, adding that tipping fees were also introduced at the Flin Flon landfill in 2012 to offset costs and hire a gatekeeper. "Although our population is declining, I believe FFDEC will continue to grow because there is a lot of waste material in our community that is not being recycled," she says. "We are designing information programs and policies to inform the public of our service and how it contributes to maintaining good environmental stewardship." ■ CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE Flin Flon group builds on recycling success Current administrator Deb Odegaard (far right) with previous administrator Doreen Murray, who retired in 2013. Below, children from McIsaac School, who participated in FFDEC's spring clean-up campaign. Photos courtesy of FFDEC

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