Stanstead's Got Tal­ent to­mor­row night!

Re­cy­col­o­gist pro­motes the ‘3 Rs’

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Coat­i­cook

Aswe cel­e­brate an­other Earth Day, it’s dis­ap­point­ing to see the strides we’ve made as a coun­try in the last few years, strides back­wards that is, when it comes to pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment. How­ever, in the opin­ion of Monique Cle­ment, who’s in charge of the Coat­i­cook MRC’s ‘Resid­ual

Ma­te­rial’ project, most peo­ple around here are do­ing their part.

“I’m in charge of man­ag­ing all of the resid­ual mate- rial pick-ups in the Coat­i­cook MRC,” ex­plained Ms. Cle­ment, care­ful to use the new term that those work­ing in the field have adopted to

re­place the word ‘garbage’. Ac­cord­ing to Ms. Cle­ment’s most re­cent report on the rates of com­post­ing, re­cy­cling and waste pro­duc­tion in the re­gion, pub­lished in Fe­bru­ary of this year, the num­bers look promis­ing.

The av­er­age amount of re­cy­cled ma­te­rial per per­son is 102 kilo­grams, higher than the Que­bec av­er­age of 93 kg. The av­er­age amount of biodegrad­able ma­te­rial col­lected per per­son is 91 kg, much higher than the pro­vin­cial av­er­age of 20 kg per per­son. When it comes to garbage go­ing to the land­fill site, res­i­dents once again beat the pro­vin­cial av­er­age, this time with the lower amount of 177 kg per per­son when com­pared to 309 kg per per­son! Fur­ther­more, the new re­cu­per­a­tion ser­vice, the Res­sourcerie des

Fron­tieres, has kept 301 tons of ma­te­rial from reach­ing the land­fill site in just one year.

Peo­ple in the Town­ships have def­i­nitely demon­strated that they want to com­post and re­cy­cle their resid­ual ma­te­rial when­ever pos­si­ble. “Peo­ple th­ese days want to re­cy­cle ev­ery­thing and some­times they go a lit­tle too far. I once saw a golf­bag filled with golf clubs in the re­cy­cling,” said Ms. Cle­ment who also lends her ex­per­tise on en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­ence to other or­ga­ni­za­tions and as­so­ci­a­tions. “I visit the re­cy­cling cen­tre in Sher­brooke with groups, from day­care chil­dren to ho­tel em­ploy­ees. Peo­ple who visit don’t see their re­cy­cling bins the same way again. I al­ways try to sim­plify things for peo­ple so I tell them there’s only three things that can go into the re­cy­cling bin: pa­per, card­board and con­tain­ers, like glass bot­tles, tin cans and plas­tic con­tain­ers,” men­tioned the ‘Re­cy­col­o­gist’.

Plas­tic can be tricky: you must look for the tri­an­gle with the num­ber in­side it. “Plas­tic items like cof­fee cup lids have the num­ber 6 in the tri­an­gle and can’t be re­cy­cled around here. They take a spe­cial fa­cil­ity.” Plas­tic bags must be bun­dled up in one bag be­cause, when loose, they can wreak havoc at the re­cy­cling cen­tre, get­ting caught up in the ma­chin­ery. Other items that peo­ple of­ten put into the re­cy­cling by mis­take, some­times caus­ing bod­ily harm to work­ers who sort the ma­te­ri­als, are wires, strap­ping, cords, hoses, old toys, stuffed an­i­mals and wooden prod­ucts. “Eight per­cent of the ma­te­rial from our re­gion that goes to the re­cy­cling cen­tre ends up at the dump. But that’s a good av­er­age com­pared to other ar­eas.”

The brown bin pick-up has been a lit­tle more chal- leng­ing to im­ple­ment than the re­cy­cling pro­gram. “The ob­jec­tive is to re­cover at least 60% of the or­ganic mat­ter that goes to the land­fill site. But some peo­ple are still not happy with the bins and some still de­bate their merit. But the brown bin method is still the sim­plest method for most peo­ple and it can take more stuff, like dis­eased plants, ex­cess plant ma­te­rial and dirty Kleenexes, than the home com­post pile. The ex­tremely high tem­per­a­tures reached when it’s be­ing pro­cessed kill all the germs,” ex­plained Ms. Cle­ment.

Agri­cul­tural plas­tic is be­ing col­lected and re­cy­cled in our area. “We have a col­lec­tor who presses it and then bales it. We’re the only ones in Que­bec re­cy­cling that plas­tic.”

Be­sides her guided vis­its to the re­cy­cling cen­tre, Ms. Cle­ment speaks about re­cy­cling and com­post­ing at con­fer­ences and work­shops, such as the bilin­gual pre­sen­ta­tion she makes ev­ery year at the Len­noxville Bor­ough’s spring clean-up, held last Satur­day. She also vis­its busi­nesses, on their re­quest, to di­ag­nose how they can im­prove their waste man­age­ment. “I just did a di­ag­nos­tic of the Coat­i­cook Hospi­tal and how they can re­duce their waste. Some of our busi­nesses do a great job, like the Coat­i­cook IGA and the Lai­terie de Coat­i­cook, which have al­most no garbage.”

Monique just fin­ished a big study for the Kah­nawake Mo­hawk Re­serve. “They have been do­ing their own sort­ing of garbage since be­fore the big cen­tres opened, but now they’re find­ing it ex­pen­sive so wanted to re­duce their costs.”

Ob­vi­ously en­joy­ing her work, Ms. Cle­ment con­tin­ued: “I’m in­ter­ested in the en­vi­ron­ment but I like work­ing with some­thing that’s con­crete, mea­sure­able. Peo­ple are really in­ter­ested in re­cy­cling and com­post­ing, af­ter all, ev­ery­one pro­duces waste. I get lots of ques­tions at my con­fer­ences.”

A com­mit­ted en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist, be­fore she could speak English Monique en­rolled in an English col­lege so she could even­tu­ally go on and take En­vi­ron­men­tal Stud­ies at Trent Univer­sity, in On­tario. “My fa­ther, who couldn’t speak English, told me ‘Bet­ter to have a hard time for a few years than all your life’.”

“En­vi­ron­men­tal Stud­ies wasn’t ‘a la mode’ back then. But when I was young, I grew up in the woods. Dur­ing dif­fi­cult times I went to the woods, to na­ture, and it al­ways helped. I’ve al­ways felt that I owed some­thing back to the en­vi­ron­ment.”

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Re­cy­col­o­gist Monique Cle­ment al­ways finds items that don’t be­long in the re­cy­cling bins.

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