Mining for Gold

If someone’s trash is another person’s treasure than the Pacific Mobile Depot [PMD]  is literally a gold mine just waited to be panned! This exciting new business  venture was started by  Jose Simas and Zeb Pereira eleven years ago with humble origins.  This unique business has blossomed into a great small business success story by establishing, “10 mobile recycling depots in Greater Victoria and 3 depots in Metro Vancouver, as well as having a commercial & residential pick-up division.”

PMD is staffed by volunteers from the host community or faith group that provides the location for PMD. A percentage of the total revenues generated at each recycling depot are then donated back to the sponsoring organization by PMD.

So it doesn’t matter what your background is, whether a vegetable farmer from Central Saanich or alternatively an accountant from Port-Coquitlam, their is now a convenient place for you to recycle a multitude of items that are not accepted in your municipal curb side recycling program such as: plastic bags, candy bar wrappers, Styrofoam packing blocks and all sorts of tetra-packs, that would have been destined for the landfill only eleven years ago.

A trailer truck on its way to being loaded full of recycle products.

Still many leading environmentalists, such as eco-authors William McDonough and Michael Braungart  aren’t sold on the virtues of recycling and are famous for decrying the recycling industry. They believe and astutely argue that there is only a slight to marginal benefit created through traditional recycling ventures because most plastics are ‘down-cycled’ into other commercial products, such as crown mouldings, fencing or plastic siding for homes, which they  argue is of lesser value over the longterm,

“As we have noted, most recycling is actually downcycling; it reduces the quality of a material over time. When plastics other than those found in soda and water bottles are recycled, they are mixed with different plastics to produce a hybrid of lower quality, which is then molded into something amorphous and cheap, such as a park bench or a speed bump… Aluminum is another valuable but constantly downcycled material. The typical soda can consists of two kinds of aluminum: the walls are composed of aluminum, manganese alloy with some magnesium, plus coatings and paint, while the harder top is aluminum magnesium alloy. In conventional recycling these materials are melted together, resulting in a weaker—and less useful—product.”

While this is a convincing argument famously put forward in their game-changing 2002 novel Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things , I don’t buy it nor subscribe to it because it undermines the intrinsic and extrinsic value created for the community at large by companies like Pacific Mobile Depot.

Having helped to start the community recycling depot at UVic a year and half ago, I can personally attest to the ways in which the community turns up to show their love and support for their own monthly recycling depot event. Furthermore the impact that PMD has in lessen our collective carbon footprint is tangible; their website proudly proclaims that 35 semi-trailers full-of plastics have thus far been saved from entering the landfill in 2011. At the same time Pacific Mobile Depot exemplifies best business practices through their adherence to corporate social responsibility;  thus far approximately  $168,000 has been returned to the myriad of community and church groups that are resp0nsible for organizing, promoting and hosting the recycling depots each month.

If you are still interested in getting your recycle on please visit PMD on their website for a full list of recycling options as well as detailed information on residential or commercial pick-up options or alternatively the location of the monthly recycling depot nearest to you.


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