Plastic-Free Spotlight: BluPlanet Recycling

As hard as we try and as good as our intentions are on our journey towards a zero waste lifestyle, we inevitably encounter waste in one form or another. That’s why it’s reassuring to know that a sustainability-centered waste management company exists right here in our own city, to educate and service all of Calgary’s waste diversion and recycling needs. This is BluPlanet Recycling. 

Plastic-Free YYC sat down with Nelson Berlin, Business Development Manager, to chat recycling, composting, and BluPlanet.

BluPlanet Recycling:

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your team and how BluPlanet Recycling came to be?

I joined the team almost 7 years ago now. I was living in Victoria for 6 years and moving back to Calgary and I wanted to get into a sustainable industry. I saw that they were a young company with tons of growth potential and worked out a deal that I would drive collection vehicles until they company was big enough to create a marketing/sales position. 

The owners founded the company 10 years ago now, around the time that the City of Calgary was rolling out the Blue Cart Program. They all lived in the same condo and there was not a similar service being offered to condos. They started small with a truck and trailer offering the mixed recycling to condos and everything grew from there. We are now the largest provider of recycling services to the multi-family industry.

What inspires what you do and your sustainability mission?

Personally, living in Victoria changed my mindset on sustainability. They were ahead of Calgary in many aspects and I wanted to get involved in the movements here as it was rapidly gaining traction. From a company standpoint the owners have been invested in a triple bottom line from day one. Having it ingrained in the company’s culture so early makes it simple to carry out day to day. We were Albert’s 5th certified B-Corp and offset all the carbon that we consume. Many of the BluPlanet staff are outdoor enthusiasts and we have an incredible drive to protect what we love. 

Aside from the daily operations of your business, in what other aspects is BluPlanet practicing sustainability?

Carpooling incentive programs, carbon offsets, UN Climate Signatory, portion of staff performance reviews are based on their personnel sustainability practices, all staff receive reusable containers upon hiring, continued education. 

How does being a local company add to BluPlanet’s sustainability?

By supporting a local B-Corp, you can be confident that your money is well spent, re-invested in the community and the company operates sustainability. 

Your website lists a donation program for refundable beverage containers – can you elaborate?

We setup refundable containers at our sites that are willing to separate them from the other material. We collect them for free and use the money to support local charities on a monthly basis. We also do the same with used clothing collection and donate it to the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. They then sell the clothing and use the money to support their charitable initiatives. 

Why is composting so important?

When organic waste goes to the landfill we basically lose that nutrient value forever. We are starting to run into huge problems across North America with our growing soils and the lack of nutrients. Composting rescues those nutrients from our unused food and can then be used to grow more food.

What are some trends that you have noticed in what/the way that consumers recycle and compost?

Recycling and organics uptake continues to increase year after year.

What are some tips that you can recommend to someone who is looking to divert his or her waste from garbage to recycling or compost?

The City of Calgary has a website called “What Goes Where” it is an absolutely incredible resource to answer all your questions. 

Even when recycling solutions are made simple, mistakes are inevitable. What is one common recycling mistake you see that you would like consumers to be mindful of?

Mistakes are Styrofoam in the recycling and plastic bags in the organics. Styrofoam belongs in the trash and plastic bags in the recycling. Composting requires certified compostable bags. 

What can businesses do to minimize their garbage output in favor of recycling?

Consume less goods that have packaging bound for the garbage. Less ordering/ bulk order. Instead of ordering from the stationary store two times per week, order more and do it every two weeks to reduce overall packaging used. Stock the kitchen with reusable cutlery and plates. On a individual level it would be great to see consumers eliminate single use coffee cups and water bottles from their daily routine. Green Calgary did a study a few years ago and identified that Calgarians were using around 800, 1,000 one time use coffee cups a day. That is 292 million per year. If we could eliminate the need for these the waste and energy saved from producing these would be incredible. 

Bonus: Where do you hope to one day see your business, waste management, and sustainability in general in Calgary?

Everyone is operating near waste free!