Since SARCAN depots re-opened on June 15 across Saskatchewan, they have achieved record recycling numbers.
At the Canora depot, numbers of recycled containers received more than doubled in the following two weeks versus the same period in 2019, according to Ashley Derkatch, supervisor.
“In the first week after re-opening our volume was 111,000 containers, compared to 45,000 last year,” said Derkatch. “That number went up to 130,000 containers in the second week, after we handled 50,000 during the same time period last year.”
Derkatch said the Canora staff has been increased to eight since the re-opening, with one employee added before the opening and another brought in once it was realized how busy it had become.
Social distancing guidelines have changed the way things are done at SARCAN, but most customers have been understanding through the transition, according to Derkatch. Strict physical distancing guidelines have been implemented, with limits on the number of customers allowed inside the depot at one time. Derkatch said this has resulted in an average wait time of 15 minutes on most days.
There are physical barriers separating customers from employees at container chutes and at customer stations. Canora has opened a third chute to handle bulk items.
Employees have been provided with expanded personal protective equipment and there is frequent sanitization of frequently touched surfaces. Employees acting as recycling guides help customers through the return options and explain SARCAN’s safety measures.
Derkatch said even with the numerous changes, things have been going well for the most part at the Canora location.
“Before COVID we had two people doing the counting of incoming recycled materials, but due to social distancing it has to be done by one person now, which adds time to the process,” she said. “We really appreciate the patience shown by the majority of our customers. SARCAN has been handling increased volume at all locations, so our processing plant is finding it a challenge to keep up with sending out trailers, but we’re making it work,” she said.
Across the province, SARCAN volumes have increased by approximately 30 per cent, said Sean Homenick of Saskatoon, SARCAN manager of communications and culture.
“We had people waiting in lines up to four hours to get into the bigger centres,” said Homenick. “The Drop and Go system used to make up two to three per cent of the volume of recycled material but now has increased to half that volume. Individuals have definitely started to use the system of tagging the bags and leaving them for the staff to count at a later date. We try to get at the bags as quickly as possible but there is a backlog. The extra volume of numbers has caused more staff to be hired in each depot across Saskatchewan.”
“We’re pleased to report that no customers or staff have reported coming down with COVID-19 since the re-opening, which is the most important thing to us.”
Homenick said they are always open to suggestions. Surveys are available for staff and customers where ideas can be shared for possibly improving the SARCAN experience in the future.