SARCAN takes in 21M containers, pays out $2.5M since reopening

Click to play video: 'The best times to drop off your recyclables at SARCAN'
The best times to drop off your recyclables at SARCAN
WATCH: SARCAN is reopen again after months of bottles, cans and milk jugs building up at home – Jun 25, 2020

After closing its recycling network due to the novel coronavirus pandemic on March 21, SARCAN has reopened its doors to overwhelming lineups in Saskatchewan.

SARCAN spokesperson Sean Homenick said that between reopening to bulk customers on June 8 to the end of June 20, they’ve taken in 21 million containers and paid out $2.5 million.

“We’ve had 57,000 customer visits,” he said on Monday.

“Just last week alone, we collected 15 million containers, over 15 million containers. That’s $1.8 million alone in that first six days (open to the general public).”

Homenick said no single-day records were broken but the spike could hit the books as one of their busiest periods.

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“These aren’t the crazy busiest days we’ve ever seen. Our busiest days are usually after a long weekend or a long break. So when we reopen after the Christmas closure, that’s our second busiest day. And then August long weekends, the day after is usually our busiest day,” Homenick said.

“These dates aren’t as high as those single dates, but combined for six days straight and counting, it’s making for probably going to be our busiest period in history.”

The recycling division of Saskatchewan Association of Rehabilitation Centres (SARC) employs over 720 people across the province, and they were kept busy with the surge.

“We were understaffed last week, probably for what we should have been. A lot of people were working overtime and just to, kind of, keep up with the backlog,” Homenick said.

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“We’ve started posting some jobs today just to get some casual and temporary help to help us with this big surge, because this is kind of been more than we expected. So we’re trying not to run our guys into the ground so we’re bringing in help.”

With COVID-19 safety measures in effect at its depots, SARCAN said customers could skip long lineups by using the ‘Drop & Go’ service where people can receive deposit refunds electronically after they leave and recyclables are counted.

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“We’ve heard some people waiting in line for an hour and a half, two hours at locations for service,” Homenick said.

“We’ve seen a lot of people opting for the line-skipping service, Drop & Go. It used to represent, at our busiest location, maybe five per cent of their volume and some of them are doing up to 50 per cent of their volume… which is amazing growth and it’s phenomenal to see.”

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan recycler looking forward to SARCAN reopening: ‘I’m going to be a millionaire’'
Saskatchewan recycler looking forward to SARCAN reopening: ‘I’m going to be a millionaire’

It is unknown exactly how long the surge will last, but Homenick said things are slowing down at some depots.

“Some of the smaller locations in towns, we’re kind of seeing a bit of a slow down by the end of last week. But Saskatoon and Regina and some of [Prince Albert], Moose Jaw, they’re going to be busy for a long time,” Homenick said.
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“We’re fully expecting that at least a month to have lineups out the door, especially in Saskatoon and Regina.”

SARCAN operates 73 recycling depots in 65 communities across the province.

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