Tofino mayor Josie Osborne, Return-It CEO Allen Langdon and Tofino Co-op GM Michael Tomilin officially open the province’s first Express & Go bottle return facility on Oct. 15. Located on Industrial Way, the small-format system allows residents to drop-off their pre-bagged returnables without sorting them. (Return-It Photo)

Unstaffed, solar-powered Tofino recycling centre one-of-a-kind for B.C.

New facility allows residents to drop-off pre-bagged recyclables without sorting them.

Tofitians no longer have to drive to Ucluelet to return their refundable beverage containers.

A new Express & GO recycling station was unveiled on Oct. 15 at a rainy day ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Josie Osborne, Allen Langdon, president and CEO of Return-It, and Tofino Co-op’s general manager Michael Tomilin.

Located at 620 Industrial Way, next to the District of Tofino’s Public Works yard, Tofino’s Express & GO recycling centre is powered by solar energy and housed in a repurposed shipping container. It is the first-of-its-kind in the province.

“At Return-It, we’re on a mission to make recycling even more convenient for all British Columbians and I couldn’t be happier to build on this mission right here in Tofino, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. This new facility revolutionizes the traditional recycling experience by offering consumers a fast, convenient and easy solution,” said Return-It CEO Langdon at the Oct. 15 event.

“By making recycling more convenient, we hope to boost our recovery rates, which in turn keeps material out of landfill and our cherished marine environment. Congratulations Tofino, you now represent the future of convenient recycling for the province,” he said.

Mayor Josie Osborne thanked Langdon and his team at Return-It.

“This really meets the goals of Tofino’s council about being an environmentally conscious community that does everything that we can to help people recycle to the utmost. And not having to make everyone do the trip down to Ucluelet is a big part of that,” said Osborne.

The District of Tofino and Return-It have partnered with Tofino Co-op to host the labeling kiosk.

“It’s right near our administration office,” said Tofino Co-op GM Michael Tomilin. “It’s a great idea. People wont’ have to travel anymore and like [Langdon] said we’ll have more returns. It’s just a great idea, simple solution.”


Tofino Co-op team member Iris Frank prints a bottle return label at the new Express & Go kiosk located beside the ATM at the Tofino Co-op. (Nora O’Malley Photo)

In March 2017, Tofino’s recycling depot closed due to lack of space and parking limitations. District of Tofino’s manager of corporate services Elyse Goatcher-Bergmann said Encorp Pacific (Canada), the federal non-profit that had operated the Tofino Bottle Depot, approached the district with the idea for the automated Express & Go pilot soon after the closure.

“Encorp is paying a market rate licence fee for the use of otherwise vacant district land next to the Public Works yard, so the district didn’t invest anything other than staff time into their application. It’s a win-win for Tofino,” said Goatcher-Bergmann.

“Residents and businesses in the District of Tofino and nearby Tla-o-qui-aht communities are avid recyclers, and we think everyone will see the benefit in not having to drive to Ucluelet to return their bottles and cans. We want to make recycling easy and convenient for everyone in our region and we’re excited to be the first in B.C. to try this out,” she said.

Langdon said Express & GO supports a growing need for innovative recycling infrastructure.

“From small municipalities like Tofino to larger urban centres where commercial space is at a premium. Really, Express and GO is a direct response to the unique needs of Tofino,” said Langdon.

Return-It is hoping to launch a second Express & GO station at Simon Fraser University in November. While this innovative recycling solution is new to B.C., this kind of bottle redemption system is widely used south of the border and in Europe.

Tofino’s Express & Go station is open daily from 7am to 10pm. All the recyclables will be transported to the Ucluelet Recycling Depot for counting, and refunds are automatically sent to the recyclers online account. More information can be found at www.return-it.ca/express/expressandgo/.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

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READ MORE: One million recyclable bottles ‘lost’ daily in B.C., foundation says

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