Burnaby NewsLeader

School program a Canadian first

Gabriel Wong and Joelle Chin, Grade 3 students at John Knox Christian School, with some of the electronic devices and toys the school is collecting to be recycled. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER
Gabriel Wong and Joelle Chin, Grade 3 students at John Knox Christian School, with some of the electronic devices and toys the school is collecting to be recycled.
— image credit: MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER

Teachers at John Knox Christian School are helping students turn environmental lessons into real-life habits.

After participating in a pilot program for food scraps collection, kids now routinely put their leftovers and peelings into compost pails that are picked up regularly by a student crew for deposit into a bin outside.

The Burnaby independent school so impressed Tracey Tobin, the city's environmental services officer, with their enthusiasm that she knew just who to call when she was asked to find a school to pilot a new electronic toy recycling collection program.

For 1 1/2 weeks, Knox students will bring in their old, broken electronic toys—just about anything that takes batteries or needs to be plugged in—for recycling.

Genesis Recycling of Langley handles the recycling of materials through the Electronic Toy Recycling Program, which started on July 1 in British Columbia, the first province in Canada to do so.

"None of these materials need to be landfilled," said Pamela Nel, spokesperson for the program.

Metals, such as from wiring and circuit boards, can be smelted and reused. Batteries can be recycled. Higher grades of plastics can be made into something else while lower grades can be processed into other materials or, for the very lowest grades, incinerated for energy production, Nel said, adding it all depends on the changing markets for the material.

As part of its outreach to local schoolkids, Nel said staff at Genesis are trying to teach kids about reusing toys, that "just because the sirens don't work and the lights don't flash, you can still play with it."

Knox Grade 3 teacher Yvonne DeWith took her class on a field trip to the Genesis recycling plant where they were quite fascinated with the process.

DeWith said she's used the program as an opportunity to teach her students the value of passing unused toys onto thrift shops or charity. They're learning how to choose toys that have longer play value, don't need batteries and are better for the environment.

One student recently requested on his birthday party invitations that guests give monetary gifts that could be put toward a larger purchase, instead of smaller toys more likely to break down and end up in the landfill.

And, DeWith added with a laugh, in encouraging students to clean out their closets and cupboards of broken toys, they're reminded that it makes room for new playthings.

Teaching children is the first step in raising awareness among parents of the electronic toy recycling program, just like they are for other forms of recycling, she said.

For more information and electronic toy drop-off locations, visit http://www.cbrsc.ca/ or call the recycling hotline at 604-732-9253.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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