Langley firefighters focus on recycling

New program makes it easier for staff to recycle at Township fire halls

Township firefighter Sean Lakeman shows the simplicity of recycling: Food scraps should be composted and not added to office wastepaper bins.

Saving lives? Yes. Protecting property? Check. Caring for the environment? Definitely.

A program designed to reduce waste and encourage recycling has been implemented by Langley Township firefighters, who are doing their part to look after the world we live in.

The Responsible Program is the Township’s corporate initiative to cut down on waste as an organization. Introduced at all seven fire halls, it’s intended to make it easier for staff to recycle at work.

“When we’re not fighting fires and saving lives, we are recycling,” joked Captain Scott Brewer.

Brewer worked in the garbage industry for 10 years and was eager to apply his knowledge of waste and recycling to all areas of his life, including his new job at the Murrayville fire hall. When he joined the fire department several years ago, he was adamant about recycling at work and put in a makeshift program for staff.

In 2012, the program was expanded by the engineering division with help from district fire chief Kevin Anderson.

Now the full-scale Responsible Program has firefighters and administrative staff recycling containers, paper, food scraps, batteries, and light bulbs at all fire halls.

Brewer said that many firefighters are passionate about the program because their children are learning about the importance of recycling at school, and as their parents they want to set a good example for their kids — and for the community.

“I feel like I’m doing my part for the environment, but it’s also part of our chore list,” said firefighter Jeremy Buck, noting that recycling is included in each shift’s list of responsibilities.

According to firefighter Sean Lakeman, garbage cans inside the Murrayville hall are half the size they used to be, yet staff are now producing half a bag of garbage a day, rather than the previous three to four bags per day.

Fire crews are also incorporating recycling into their fundraisers and charity events.

“We are always looking for a way to pass it on because it is so easy to do once you get the hang of it,” said Buck.

The Responsible Program is also in place at the Township’s Civic Facility, Operations Centre, and recreation and community centres.

“As a corporation, we are dedicated to reducing the waste we generate, and we hold ourselves responsible,” said solid waste co-ordinator Tess Rutley.

The Township’s internal recycling program asks staff to reduce waste, re-use what they can, and recycle whenever and wherever possible.

The program also complements Metro Vancouver’s new Solid Waste Management Plan.

The Responsible Program can easily be implemented in most work environments. Initiatives include printing on recycled paper, composting food scraps, reducing waste output, and recycling everything from paper, containers, batteries, light bulbs, Styrofoam and soft plastics.