Learn how Jodie Frank and her team have been able to not only achieve, but exceed their waste diversion goals and set the standard for municipalities everywhere!
The City of Regina selected Busch Systems through a competitive procurement process. Since the selection, we have partnered to launch a new recycling, compost and waste program in 12 City facilities. These facilities were chosen to be a part of the pilot program and include office and admin buildings, public leisure centers, and operational buildings. We interviewed Jodie Frank, City of Regina’s Waste Minimization Specialist, to learn more about this new diversion program.
How did this new recycling project come about? Why did the City of Regina choose to be a leader , and demonstrate by example in recycling and waste mangement?
In order to tap into the larger Industrial, Institutional and Commercial sector as outlined in Waste Plan Regina (WPR), The City needed to ensure it was providing leadership in waste management by expanding the current recycling program at City owned facilities.
In 2011, Regina’s City Council adopted Waste Plan Regina’s Extended Service option for industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) and construction and demolition (C&D) sectors. These sectors include all non-residential properties and businesses, collectively producing 70 per cent of all waste entering Regina’s landfill. The IC&I sector disposes a high percentage of divertible material (paper, packaging, bottles, containers and tin cans and food waste) in the garbage. City of Regina facilities fall into the IC&I category.
Regina residents noticed and commented that waste services at public-facing City facilities, such as leisure and recreational centres, do not align with the services mandated at their own homes. This pilot project addresses this discrepancy.
An expanded waste diversion program for City facilities has several benefits:
- The City of Regina will become a leader in non-residential recycling
- Environmental sustainability of City operations will improve
- Less waste from City facilities will be disposed of at the landfill
- Recovery rates for recyclable material will improve
- Understanding of the IC&I sector and its unique recycling and waste diversion opportunities will improve. We will collect the data to develop recommendations for a waste diversion strategy for the IC&I sector
What are the main challenges with the new initiative that you can share with other municipalities? What has been the biggest obstacle so far?
The biggest obstacle so far was the IDEA of moving to a centralized recycling system. Previously, cleaning staff were responsible for collecting waste material from cubicles, offices or desk areas. The move to a centralized system meant that employees would be now accountable for the waste they generate and responsible to take their own organic waste, recyclables and garbage to a centralized sorting station. The stations are conveniently located in areas such as printer areas and kitchenettes. Now that the project has been implemented, staff have really adapted well and the IDEA of the change was more of the obstacle then the practice itself. We introduced the project to the organization with the tag line “Let’s Green Our Routine”. This is not simply about new bins and streams. It’s about making better choices to reduce our overall consumption.
People usually want to do the right thing, but recycling can be confusing and communicating complex ideas can be challenging. Managing that change across a number of facilities and a variety of work groups (inside and outside workers that have very different work environments and geographically dispersed) adds complexity. It is not easy to come up with solutions that work for so many very different spaces and working groups.
What are you doing to educate and engage employees about the new recycling program?
We have been using our internal intranet and other change management approaches to inform and educate City staff. We began providing information regarding the new system several weeks before the launch, electronically and by posters, announcements, and word of mouth. We also gave in depth training and a Green Team manual to 60—70 members of staff who volunteered to become advocates for the program. These are the Green Team members. They learned all the details of the program and could communicate the upcoming changes to staff members in their areas. Other important aspects of the change management have been visual support from Senior Leadership and adding Green moments to regular meetings, like safety messages.
What do you think are the most integral components to ensure the program is successful?
Identifying pain points through the waste audits – the materials that people are having issues with will be identified throughout the pilot and will inform our messaging to fix improper sorting behavior. It is also important to educate participants regarding best practice methods to divert waste (ex. sorting left to right, centralized stations). We also always listen to general feedback from employees and Green Team members.
Why is the Green Team such an important part of this project? What tactics did you use to inspire and motivate your Green Team to lead this project?
The Green Team has been vital to our success. In general, the role of the Green Team is to be environmental champions in their own work areas. They help their colleagues learn and use the new waste sorting systems and understand why they’re important. We can create pamphlets and other learning materials, but nothing beats one on one coaching from someone you know. The Green Team members encourage their colleagues to sort their waste properly and act as a resource for them on how to do it. They have also been valuable in communicating feedback on the program to the Waste Diversion branch. This way, in addition to the audit data, we get reports from the “boots on the ground” at each of the pilot facilities. They have provided meaningful information and offered useful suggestions which are appropriate for their work areas.
What were the city requirements for the waste containers in the various spaces?
The City was looking for a multi-stream waste system that would segregate recyclable materials, compost (excluding meats and dairy) and garbage. The system needed to be consistent across facilities and provide varying capacities. The needed to work in dry and wet conditions, in public facing and work areas including shop spaces. They needed to be aesthetically pleasing and provide a visual indicator that the bins are .
The Spectrum containers in City Hall provided a modular system that allows centralized stations to grow with the program. The standardized colour options help with stream recognition and the lids are also complemented with restrictive openings to help promote proper sorting technique. The Waste Watchers were deployed in public spaces, such as leisure centers, and also provide a consistent, colour coded, modular system that is durable and easy to clean. The signage options on both the Waste Watchers and the Spectrums, provide a clear explanation of what is accepted in what stream, and help to contribute to increased diversion rates and participation rates.
Busch visited Regina to help us select the bin types for each facility.
What has the response been from the employees?
Overall the response has been positive. Lots of questions confirming if various items can or cannot be diverted, for example rubber bands and PVC pipe. Green Team members have been reporting positive progress and overall compliance has been great. We are really starting to notice an increased interest in low waste and zero waste events such as Employee Appreciation BBQs or Department Days.
How will this new program benefit the city and it's people?
The program will provide residents the opportunity to divert their waste from the landfill when visiting public facilities as they do at home. The program also shows residents that the City is taking steps to become a leader in waste management by using best practice approaches and leading by example.
How has Busch Systems supported you in this project?
Busch has been a valuable resource by providing the industry best practice knowledge regarding multi-stream waste sorting systems. Busch physically visited each of the pilot facilities to assist with the layout and placement of the bins and provided first hand product knowledge to help with selecting the type of bin for each facility. They consulted on launch plans, provided prizes and incentives to participants, shared educational materials, provided graphic design support and feedback in developing of training materials. Through the purchase of the containers, they also donated to local environmental charities.
Stay tuned for updates over the next year about this program with the City of Regina and their progress. If you have questions regarding the program email email@example.com.