After being in the forefront of the recycling business for Wadena and area residents, Mallard Diversified Services Inc. (MDSI) officially gave notice to the Town of Wadena to end its recycling contract. A delegation including chair of the board Elaine Wirtz and incoming CEO Ryan Calder attended the regular town council meeting held April 28 to discuss MDSI’s position.
Outgoing CEO for Mallard Diversified Services Inc. Arlene Franko, left, is overseeing the transition with incoming CEO Ryan Calder, while Betty Pozniak continues with her job shredding books, one of MDSI’s services.
Council heard from Calder that dirty diapers, broken glass, used cat litter and, most recently, an unsealed container of used hypodermic needles have been found among items deposited in community recycling bins.
“Most importantly, these are our most vulnerable people in our community,” Calder told council. “Mallard is no longer prepared to put people we are serving at risk.” He explained that even financing the operation was no longer a consideration. Speaking as a father, he said, “It’s not even about the money anymore. It really came down to safety. Would you really want your son or daughter working in those conditions?”
In his letter to mayor and council, Calder said there has been an increase in the amount of garbage that MDSI staff have to go through when sorting.
When it comes to depositing recycling items in the community bins, Calder said in an interview with the News that he believes most people are responsible; however, the latest discovery of the open container of needles was a wake-up call for the organization.
The other issue, said Calder, is that the age of the people working at the centre is increasing. Coupled with the nature of the work, he and the board felt they are putting people at risk, creating an occupational health and safety concern.
MDSI is looking to end its contract for recycling with the Town effective June 30. MDSI will continue to operate the local SARCAN deposit business as well as the paper-shredding business and there is an option to continue with only cardboard-recycling, but Calder admitted that may be up to the Town to decide.
Although council was disappointed, it is actively seeking to replace the service provided by MDSI with combined curbside recycling and garbage pickup. With only two quotes at the time of the meeting, the Town’s chief administrative officer Kelly Dodd is pursuing a quote from a third company to be presented to council before a final decision is made. Then council will roll out the details of how recycling and garbage for both residential and commercial properties will be handled; contract details and costs still need to be determined.
As for those at MDSI, they are excited at the new possibilities they are exploring to shore up revenues but it is too early to release any details, said Calder, adding that they will also be gearing up for their 40th anniversary celebrations.
Calder, who has an extensive background in finance and program development, started in his new position on April 16. He replaces Arlene Franko, who took over the helm at MDSI four years ago and whose last day was April 30.
By Alison Squires