2013 Waste Minimization Awards - Celebrating Saskatchewan's Waste Reducers

The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council (SWRC) and SaskPower hosted Saskatchewan's 18th Waste Minimization Awards ceremony on May 8, 2014 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Regina.

“The Saskatchewan Waste Minimization Awards are our chance to salute those in our community who have shown leadership and dedication to waste minimization here in Saskatchewan” said Joanne Fedyk, Executive Director of the SWRC.

The 2013 Awards were presented by Bruce Hesselink, Manager of SaskPower's Shand Greenhouse, and Cam Swan, Deputy Minister of Environment.

SWRC gratefully acknowledges SaskPower's sponsorship of the 2013 Awards.

Lifetime Achievement: Grant See

(Photo L-R: Cam Swan, Grant See, Bruce Hesselink) Grant

Grant is originally from Edmonton and moved to British Columbia as a teenager. Grant lived in BC for more than 40 years, working in the automobile industry. He was introduced to regional waste systems as a director of the Cariboo Regional District in northern BC.

In 1999, Grant retired and moved to Preeceville, where he served as Mayor for six years. Only a ridiculously hard-working person like Grant would consider becoming a Mayor a retirement gig.  During this time he became involved in setting up the Parkland Regional Waste Management Authority, where he is now general manager. The Parkland Region encompasses a population of 11,500 spanning 24 municipalities, three aboriginal communities and two provincial parks. Under Grant’s watch, 29 of 33 municipal dumps were decommissioned, replaced by a landfill that meets all the new codes and regulations. The region has a goal to divert 50 percent of its waste and collects paper and all plastics, including Styrofoam (one of the few that does).

One of the most lasting impacts Grant has had on this Province has been as an untiring advocate for recycling and regional waste management in Saskatchewan over the years. He was one of the founding members of the Association for Regional Waste Management Authorities of Saskatchewan (ARWMAS), and held positions as Vice-Chair and Secretary Treasurer for that organization. Grant has had significant input into the development of the province’s new Environmental Code for landfills and transfer stations and has helped many municipalities to be prepared for when the code is enacted. He continues to advise municipalities on regional waste management systems.  He has been an important part of many waste and recycling consultation processes provincially and locally.

It seems especially fitting to recognize Grant this evening, because he embodies what we tried to make this conference all about.  He is keenly aware of the important ties that bind the worlds of waste management and waste diversion, and has been putting the puzzle together for many years.  He has been dedicated to the fields of waste and recycling for many years, and has created a legacy in the Parkland Regional Waste Authority that can serve as model to waste regions and municipalities well into the future.  Thank you, Grant, for your many years of dedication to waste minimization and recycling.

Individual Award - Cass Hazel and Genevieve Jones

Photo (L-R):  Cam Swan, Genevieve Jones, Cass Hazel, and Bruce Hesselink

Jones and HazelThe Individual award recognizes those whose initiative and dedication have impacted waste reduction in their communities, workplaces or government. The 2013 recipients were Cass Hazel and Genevieve Jones. In November of 2012 Genevieve and Cass decided to build their own environmentally friendly home on the family acreage near Bradwell, Saskatchewan. Tired of renting in Saskatoon, their goal was to build a house for the same cost as one year’s rent, constructing their home with as many reused materials as possible.

With a passive solar design in mind for more energy efficient living, they started building with a small 24’x24’ garage package that they modified to resemble a home.  Materials, including doors and windows, were procured from friends and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  Their main source of heat comes from a wood burning stove in the living room.  The house also features a compost toilet.

As far as living goes, Genevieve and Cass strive to make conscious decisions whenever they have to purchase products.  They avoid products with excessive packaging avoiding plastic whenever possible, grow their own food seasonally, and select where they buy food and materials based on how much packaging and waste is generated from those stores.  It goes without saying that Genevieve and Cass avoid the plastic bag, and compost like villains. As such, their garbage is down to one bag a month, and recycling is about two bags a month. 

Genevieve and Cass are truly ambitious people. Working together as a team, they have reinvented their lifestyles to have as little impact on the planet as possible. Their drive and passion are really admirable, and completely worth acknowledging and encouraging.

Corporate Leadership Award: SaskTel’s Phones for a Fresh Start program

Pictured: Cam Swan; Darcee MacFarlane, Vice-Presdient of Corporate Communications and Government Relations with SaskTel; and Bruce Hesselink.

SaskTel’s Phones for a Fresh Start program recycles used cell phones from customers across Saskatchewan.  When SaskTel first launched this recycling program they realized that due to the high reusability and value of scrap materials, recycling cell phones can be a minor source of revenue for companies.  Instead of internalizing that revenue, SaskTel has used the proceeds from the recycling process to support victims of domestic abuse here in Saskatchewan.  

 It is stated that approximately only 10% of cell phones are recycled by their users, and that 40% of users store old cell phones because they do not know what to do with them.  SaskTel collects those phones through 86 drop off locations across Saskatchewan, and enables residents who aren’t close to drop offs to ship phones via Canada Post at no charge.  Since 2009, the Phones for a Fresh Start program has recycled over 56,000 phones.

 Again, what is really impressive about the Phones for a Fresh Start program is that they are using an important practice like diverting cell phones from the landfill to draw attention to, and provide financial support to a very worthwhile cause here in Saskatchewan.

 Recycling cell phones enables SaskTel to donate both cell phones and pre-paid phone cards to the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS).  It is often the case that women who flee to PATHS shelters across Saskatchewan leave an abusive situation with nothing.  Having a cell phone and access to phone cards can provide them with a way to keep in touch with family and friends and have direct linkages to housing, medical and emergency services, helping them get their life established again. 

 To date, the Phones for a Fresh Start program has donated 1,071 phones and $42,000 worth of pre-paid phone cards to PATHS.

 Recycling cell phones is not revolutionary.  As one of the largest retailers of cell phones in the province, SaskTel should be participating in a take-back program for cell phones.  What is outstanding about SaskTel and Phones for a Fresh Start is how they are reusing those phones to help support people in need here in Saskatchewan, providing them with the ability to keep in touch with family and friends, and donating supports to help rebuild lives.

Festivals and Events Award: Regina Folk Festival

Pictured: Dayle Schroeder, Regina Folk Festival; Cam Swan; and Bruce Hesselink

The Regina Folk Festival is Canada's longest continuously-running folk festival, and since its inception organizers have always tried minimize its ecological footprint. Over the last 45 years, the RFF has become a leader in waste-reduction among Saskatchewan events. Their list of initiatives and practices is lengthy and impressive. 

The festival is championing an effort to become bottled water free. The RFF encourages patrons to bring their own water bottles. The RFF provides water stations for patrons to fill bottles for free, and prohibits vendors from selling plastic water bottles.  This might not seem like a huge step, but for a three day festival with hundreds of performers and staff, the water bottles add up.

The RFF has always made recycling an important part of their event, but they continually strive to improve their recycling practices.  Every garbage container is accompanied by multiple recycling bins in order to sort recyclables into bottles and cans, paper and plastic and compostable cups. Recycling stations are accompanied by signage and volunteers from the Festival’s Environment crew to help navigate the best bin for a patron's needs.

In 2008, the Festival began providing beer only in compostable beer cups.  Since there aren’t adequate composting facilities in Saskatchewan to handle compostable plastic, cups are sent to Alberta for composting, preventing thousands of cups from going to Regina’s landfill. 

The concessions area at the festival does not allow any vendors to sell products in Styrofoam, only paper and compostable materials.

The festival is also aiming to go completely paperless in the near future.

The environmental initiatives of the Regina Folk Festival don’t stop with waste diversion.  The festival has invested in a new mainstage lighting system comprised solely of high output LED bulbs, cutting the power used by the stage in half.  The RFF encourages festival-goers to choose ecological modes of transportation to and from the festival, including bus and bike transit.

One of the things we find most impressive about the Regina Folk Festival is that they have strong values that are immediately recognizable by patrons.  They are creating a level of awareness for waste minimization that makes patrons question why all festivals can’t operate with the same level of consideration.  This is the first time that the Council has given out a Waste Minimization Award for Festivals and Events, and it is clear that tonight we are recognizing Saskatchewan’s most sustainable and conscious festival.  They are creating a model by which we hope all Saskatchewan festivals copy in the future.

School/Youth/Youth Service Organization Award: Student Action for a Sustainable Future (SASF)

Pictured: Cam Swan; Shannon Dyck, City of Saskatoon; Amber Jones, City of Saskatoon; Angie Bugg, Sask. Environmental Society; and Bruce Hesselink.

Engaging students and teachers in sustainability is arguably one of the most essential strategies for protecting our environment. Discussing environmental sustainability in classrooms can lead to measurable impacts on the way families live their lives, and helps build students capacity to create change.   

For this reason, a group of partners came together in Saskatoon in 2012 to develop and deliver a pilot program called Student Action for a Sustainable Future (SASF). These partners, The City of Saskatoon, Saskatoon Public Schools, the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, the University of Saskatchewan, and Saskatoon Light and Power, brought together eleven classes from the Catholic and Public School Divisions (grades 4-8) to pursue student learning and action in the program’s 5 focus areas: waste, water, energy, food, and transportation.

The purpose of the SASF program is to facilitate educational opportunities that engage students in inquiry-based learning and empower them to take sustainability-focused action. The program is meant to provide support and professional development to teachers to deliver Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in and outside of the classroom.

Some of the waste-related activities that classes undertook include:

  • Organizing school-wide waste audits
  • Creating garbage art
  • Organizing composting for the classroom
  • Improving the school’s recycling systems
  • Learning about the amount of waste that is linked to fast food and student lunches
  • Educating classmates on the benefits of tap water over bottled water
  • Going on field trips, such as touring the Saskatoon Landfill

The SASF program is unique in that it links educators, non-educators and environmental/sustainability experts. The partners have noticed that this arrangement has not only contributed to the students’ learning, but to the learning of teachers and program partners as well.

We were lucky enough to be invited to the SASF student tradeshow this past April where the students were able to share their experiences and the energy and passion displayed by these kids is amazing.  The level of knowledge and insight that these students demonstrated into a wide range of environmental sustainability projects was outstanding.  The SASF program is truly laying the groundwork to encourage children and families to consider ways that they can become more environmentally sustainable in the future. 

Partnership Award:  KCDC and EPRA Sask.

Pictured: Cam Swan; Linda Cunningham and Jody Rhodes, KCDC; Kris Mihilewicz, EPRA-Saskatchewan; and Bruce Hesselink

Scanning the map of end-of-life electronics collection sites in Saskatchewan led the Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA-SK) to determine one thing: they didn’t really have any collection sites in Northern Saskatchewan outside of La Ronge.  This represented a small piece of the pie for Saskatchewan, just 27,000 residents, but was an important part of Saskatchewan that EPRA-SK wanted to provide service to. 

They had discussions with other stewardship groups, recycling companies, haulers, and government agencies and heard the same thing: it is a small amount of people spread out over thousands and thousands of kilometers, so you’re probably wasting your time.  They needed a partner to help them tackle this issue, but they couldn’t find anyone willing to share this initiative with them. 

Then EPRA thought outside of the box and went to Agencies in the north, and they found a willing and eager partner in the Keewatin Career Development Centre (KCDC).  KCDC is a non-profit partnership of Agencies that works to develop and provide career, education and information technology services to Northern Communities. 

Through the Northern Collection Pilot Project, EPRA-SK and KCDC worked together to raise awareness for recycling end-of-life electronics, and give residents of Northern Saskatchewan a convenient way to recycle their electronics safely and responsibly in their own communities.  The Pilot Project travelled over 10,000 kms across Northern Saskatchewan to host collection events in 27 communities.  Residents brought in electronics to the collection events by truck, trailer, snowmobile and even sleigh.

As part of the project, the partners made an educational video that they distributed to schools that hosted collection events, teaching students about the importance of recycling electronics responsibly. 

In one short year, the project successfully diverted 20 tonnes of end-of-life electronics from Northern Landfills. 

 Northern Saskatchewan is often an easy part of the province to ignore because the communities are remote, the residents are few, and the distances that must be travelled are great.  What the partnership between EPRA-SK and KCDC has shown us is that whatever barriers are in our way and however hard it is to the the right thing, it is important to try.  We hope that the project by EPRA-SK and KCDC has laid the foundation for enhancing recycling services in the North. 

Small Business Award: Dakine Home Builders

Pictured: Cam Swan; DeAnne Csada, Dakine Home Builders; and Bruce Hesselink

Dakine Home Builders are on a mission to build homes with as little impact on the planet as possible.  They do so because they understand that they are inherently responsible for the future of the communities they help build.  Taking an environmental approach to home building not only provides their customers with a home that looks nice but one that was designed to operate efficiently, provide long term suitability and leave the smallest carbon footprint possible.  They recognize that responsible waste management is an essential aspect of sustainable building.

Dakine ensures that waste is eliminated during the construction process, including:

  • Using prefabricated concrete forms and prefabricated trusses during concrete construction to eliminate wood waste
  • Using steel beam construction, which is recyclable, uses less raw materials, and is not treated with preservatives. 
  • Insulating with polyurethane foam insulation.
  • Roughing plumbing and electrical using the shortest possible route to reduce waste

Dakine minimizes waste whenever possible, which includes:

  • Selecting products with minimal packaging and that make use of recycled materials.
  • Choosing suppliers and trades that not only provide environmentally friendly products but are also committed to reducing their carbon footprint.
  • Recycling Materials through their internal, on-site recycling system, ensuring each job site has the company’s recycling policies posted to reminder employees and contractors.

 Dakine also reuse materials whenever possible, including:

  • Ensuring that staff salvage reusable materials for other projects or to donate to local charitable organizations (such as Habitat)
  • Using cut-off lumber from job sites to be used for blocking

Green building isn’t always the easiest way to construct a building.  Green building practices often are not the cheapest practices either, nor are they the easiest to communicate and enforce to employees, suppliers, contractors and the many hands that touch a job site.  Nevertheless, green building practices are very important to the rapidly expanding Cities of Saskatchewan, and green builders such as Dakine who encourage their customers to consider the environment when building a new home should be recognized and encouraged for their outstanding efforts. 


All of the winners demonstrate a strong commitment to waste minimization and have made our province a better place to live. SWRC and SaskPower congratulate them!