By Oliver Berger –

Early this year, Rogers Hometown Hockey took over the downtown core with stages, lights, massive tents, semi-trucks, broadcast booths, cameras; there was action everywhere. Sounds like a great time, right? Makes a guy like me wonder what sort of waste is going to be left behind when it is all over, after all the people have come through, enjoyed, then left.

The waste-wise crew holds a strong defensive line against garbage at #hometownhockey.
Photo: Oliver Berger

It also makes me listen to that voice inside, the voice that makes you want to use your personal skills to the fullest potential and help out. To put on your game face and gear up. I stepped up to the challenge with our wonderful team at the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society for a once in a bluer (aka. blue moon) event, right here in downtown Williams Lake.

Gracefully as always, Mary Forbes set up a couple of recycling stations around the center core of the event, equipped for all avenues of undesirable material. I found some old hockey tape, rigged up a garbage picker to my hockey stick, and the Hockey-Stick-Picker was born. Misty, Niki, and Melissa were armed with fishnets for sorting, defending the main station and working the streets with gleeful waste-sorting finesse. Together, they helped us coach locals like Willy and Verena Berger, pictured above, and kept folks up to date on all the latest recycling developments. We even had our Skates for All program set up, giving away free skates to kids or adults who needed them, thanks to donations from the community.

We fostered a great relationship with all of the organizers of Rogers Hometown Hockey, who in return epically assisted us with all our waste diversion goals. Most of these folks travelling along with the event crew were from Eastern Canada and had seen a lot of the country already. It was great to chat and learn about the different waste management systems they had seen along their travels.

Many of the staff complimented on the presence of our dedicated crew of waste experts present throughout the entire event, enthusiastically coaching and engaging with the public about managing the waste stream.

A guy from the Giuseppi pizza truck told us we were the first town to offer him a compost bin inside their truck for the event weekend. Haha, awesome, right?

We can all pat ourselves on the back, actually. I witnessed good waste-wise teamwork with all local players that attended the event, children and adults alike. Contamination levels were fairly low compared to previous local events.

A major contender to deal with at events like these is all the to-go packaging that our to-go food or drinks are served in. Most is recyclable, some are compostable, and the rest is landfill. We just have to make sure they end up in the right zone. Along with that, the many boxes everything arrives in can pile up. Events create so much cardboard; cardboard gets its very own bin.

My visual analysis came out with these waste statistics:

  • Recycling – 34% paper plates, plastic containers, coffee cups, lids
  • Landfill – 25% garbage bags, foil lined packages, broken event props, unsortables
  • Cardboard – 35% little boxes
  • Compostables – 6% coffee grinds, food, napkins, soiled paper plates

One noteworthy takeback is that out of all the collected recyclables, to-go coffee cups and lids made up about 83% of the recycling bin. Coffee cups outnumbered other recyclable items about 5 to 1. If you do the math on the whole calculation, it is conclusive to say to-go coffee cups sum up to almost 30 per cent of the entire waste stream. Not bringing your refillable mug might just be a game misconduct.

Let us continue to ensure that we know that these disposable cups are recyclable. There were quite a few people I spoke with who thought these cups were garbage. I am thankful we have a great program in our community that allows us to find better solutions. I am thankful for our communities’ teamwork in celebrating our town together. Good game folks, good game!

Oliver has a 35-year degree in life, starting out in the Spokin Lake area, spending adolescence in Williams Lake, and then venturing throughout the world on a quest of always learning new things. His priorities include dedication to and education about waste management.


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