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Fort St James Bottle Depot recycles ‘impressive’ number of units

“Hoping our 2021 numbers will be even greater,” owner said
Pearl Dyer is one of Kat Slorstad’s main employees and does the bottle depot and curbside collection as well as the cardboard and paper baling. She is also one of seven volunteer board members on the Stuart Lake Recycling Co-op. (Photo submitted)

Nearly 1.8 million beverage containers have been kept out of the landfill in Fort St. James.

The Bottle Depot saw an overall return of that many units last year, which Kat (Katrina) Slorstad said is impressive.

“I’m pretty sure it is past the previous owner’s record,” she said, noting she had purchased the depot in July 2019.

“Unfortunately, she got sick and had to shut down for the better part of a year, and it seemed like people just ended up going elsewhere to recycle their cans and bottles, so I was really hoping that I would gain the customers back and get that support again, and I’m pretty sure that we achieved that.”

Read More: B.C. Return-It to double recycling deposits for pop cans, juice boxes next month

The Bottle Depot was a busy place to be last summer, according to Slorstad, who said she was fortunate enough to gain a high school student for six weeks through Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation.

In 2011, Slorstad ventured into the world of recycling when she launched her own curbside recycling program, Imperative Recycling, which would expand to local businesses.

After Nak’azdli Whut’en partnered with Recycle BC and was awarded a contract for residential curbside collection, she was able to continue managing it for the next several years.

The District of Fort St. James would later take over the contract.

“That’s kind of when I decided to purchase the bottle depot because I still had my curbside collection for the business sector, but I needed something else for income,” Slorstad said.

“I was seven months pregnant with my third child when I decided to purchase the bottle depot, so I was on maternity leave for most of the first year taking care of my daughter.”

Slorstad said her $10,000 in winnings from the 2019 Thrive North Business Challenge substantially helped her with operational costs in the first year of purchasing the bottle depot.

2020-11-02 Press Release ICI Recycling PartnershipThe District of Fort St. James is excited to work with Stuart Lake...

Posted by Fort St. James District on Monday, November 2, 2020

Read More: Curbside recycling to be cancelled in the District

In October 2020, the operation of the Integris Recycle Centre was officially transferred by the District to the newly formed Stuart Lake Recycling Co-op.

Slorstad said the cardboard and paper recycling facility was closed shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“All of a sudden, my curbside company was no longer,” she said.

“So myself, other like-minded individuals and business owners got together and formed a non-profit co-op to start the cardboard and paper building back up, and went into partnership with the district to lease their building.”

The group had learned the ins and outs of co-operatives through Co-operatives First based in Saskatoon, Sask, and hope with their model to take advantage of available funding and eventually develop other services and new green projects in Fort St. James.

In her spare time, Slorstad enjoys studying anatomy and physiology in which she has enrolled in some basic courses.

“Over the years there’s been these ups and downs and I’m kind of like why do I even do it? Recycling is super challenging, there’s not a whole lot of money in it, and it’s hard to educate people,” she said.

“It’s something that I feel is more of passion than a career, so I keep trucking on and somehow making it.”

Read More: Stuart Lake Recycling Co-op in Fort St. James has been incorporated

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