2015 Mobius Award Winners

Divert NS hosted the 17th annual Mobius Awards of Environmental Excellence on October 14, 2015 at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Small Business of the Year: RE used resale Co-op Ltd., New Minas 

Our Small Business winner this year is a community-minded second hand shop focused on keeping furniture and other items out of landfills and redistributing them to new homes. This New Minas-based business in the Annapolis Valley offers a no-cost, hassle-free drop-off site for unwanted but still useful items, similar to the Value Village model. Their entire inventory is second hand donated material, which could very well be destined for the landfill if their store not exist. This small business is not only helping the environment, but also their local community. They also provide items to those in need at a substantially lower cost; partnering with community support groups to provide free or discounted items to those in need.

Large Business of the Year: Mic Mac Mall, Dartmouth

When you operate the largest shopping mall in Atlantic Canada, which houses more than 160 businesses and serves over 6 million shoppers annually, you need to find unique and innovative ways to manage large volumes of waste. Mic Mac Mall did just that with the “Sort it Out” program, which resulted in the elimination of waste receptacles from their food court as well as mandated the use of clear bags for retailers since the Fall of 2014 – long before this was implemented in Halifax. The program has resulted in an impressive 94% diversion rate, up from 40% prior to the implementation of the program. Since the adoption of clear bags, the amount of garbage generated on-site has also decreased 26% over the same time period last year. 

Institution of the Year: Tim Horton Children’s Camp, Tatamagouche 

Imagine running a camp for 3,000 youth each and every year. The Tim Horton Children’s Camp in Tatamagouche has long been recognized for the experiences it provides to disadvantaged youth living in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario. Many campers arrive having never seen a waste sorting station, so the staff at camp provide education sessions for seven groups of about 130 campers over the course of a summer. The camp also goes above and beyond to provide reusable water bottles and sleeping bags that campers get to keep following their stay at camp, which minimizes plastic waste and water use for laundry. 

Honourable Mention Institution of the Year: The NSCC Annapolis Valley Campuses (Digby, Middleton, Lawrencetown)

The NSCC Annapolis Valley Campuses in Digby, Middleton and Lawrencetown have the unique challenge of being in separate waste management regions, so must follow separate rules when it comes to waste diversion and recycling. But, this doesn’t stop them from an ongoing commitment to the environment. These institutions are always striving for environmental excellence. Each year, waste audits are performed and a waste diversion rate is calculated for each campus. This year, Lawrencetown had a 92% waste diversion rate, Middleton had an 89% diversion rate, and Digby had a 78% diversion rate. These impressive diversion rates are achieved in a variety of ways, ranging from sorting education presentations for new students, to ongoing commitment from their facilities staff. They promote sustainability through trade show-style events, offer cash prizes to students with innovative sustainability ideas, and have even incorporated recycling station monitors in their cafeterias. Beyond diverting their own waste, these campuses are setting an example in their local communities, encouraging others to bring batteries and CFL lights so NSCC can sort and dispose of them responsibly.

Waste Reduction Education Program

This year we’ve selected two winners in this category, Halifax – Changes at the Curb and Region 6 – Composting at Home. These organizations stood out for different reasons, and it was impossible to choose between the two.

Halifax – Changes at the Curb

Halifax implemented the Changes at the Curb program this summer.  Approved by the Halifax Regional Council in February 2015, it included mandatory use of clear bags for garbage, no more plastic bags for leaf and yard collection, and the decision to eliminate the collection of grass clippings curbside. Halifax Solid Waste Resources developed a wide-reaching multi-media campaign to communicate these changes to the nearly 400,000 residents of Halifax. Mediums included radio, television, print ads, online ads, and social media as well as in-store and trade show displays, newsletters delivered to every household, and the creation of a mobile app and web widget to help ease residents into these changes and provide ongoing communication, education and support. As a result of this initiative, clear bags are heightening the awareness and importance of proper sorting, prompting more residents to sort their waste. Early indications show a reduction in garbage and full participation in the program changes - a clear story of success!

Region 6 - Composting at Home

Region 6 (Queens, Lunenburg, West Hants, Barrington and Shelburne) for their ‘Composting at Home’ program was also recognized this year in this category. This program is creative in that it provides a chance for residents to receive face-to-face support and education to help with their composting effort, versus the ‘set it and forget it’ approach, where literature is provided in the hopes that people will retain the information and follow the guidelines. Region 6 Solid Waste Management recognized that a more practical approach to backyard and/or worm composting was needed, and so they worked with residents to set up a system and provide on-going support, seeing the process through from the initial education until the composting process is complete. And what’s more is they even provide the tools to complete the program - including the worms! In the five years since the program began, 45 homes have become part of the program. 43 have completed the composting process, and 41 homes continue to compost. They have enjoyed a 91% participation rate, and estimate that between four to five tonnes of organic waste have been diverted from the municipal waste stream. This is equivalent to 400 full green carts.

Individual Excellence: John Penney, Coxheath, Cape Breton

Anyone who has moved or downsized knows large items in your home can be a hassle to get rid of. John Penney had a unique idea for what to do with unwanted pianos, organs, and other large unusual materials. Over the past couple of years, John has rescued 174 organs and 25 pianos destined for disposal and turned them into roll-top desks, book shelves, chairs and even coffee tables. This represents approximately 46,500 pounds of waste that would have had to be buried in a landfill, but instead have a new chance at life.

Honourable Mention Individual Excellence: Abby MacLean, Sutherland’s River, Pictou 

Abby MacLean is a grade 10 student at North Nova Education Centre in New Glasgow who started the Park Falls Litter Clean-up Project. Park Falls, a popular public swimming, picnicking, and tourist attraction area, is on a private property owned by Abby’s family. Abby noticed a fast accumulation of litter, including broken bottles, fast food containers, cigarette butts, as well as a general disrespect of the Falls, and decided to take action. She goes to the Falls three to four times a week, and collects upwards of 10-14 large bags of litter so that others can enjoy this public space. 


School of the Year: A.G. Baillie Memorial

A. G. Baillie Memorial School in New Glasgow has partnered with TerraCycle, a company that collects difficult-to-recycle packaging and products like lunchmates, soup can labels, metal pull tops, and candy bar wrappers, and repurposes the material into affordable, innovative products. This has meant that out of the approximately 300 students who eat lunch in the cafeteria daily, they are producing, on average, only ¼ of a bag of garbage and 1 bag of refundables.

In addition, the school has invested time and energy to promote recycling and waste diversion by having regional educators in to speak to students and finding ways to use old lost and found items for costumes for school plays.

Community-Based Project of the Year: CleanFARMS Inc.

CleanFARMS Inc. is a national, industry-led, not-for-profit stewardship organization whose mission is to work locally to enable environmental sustainability through effective stewardship of waste agricultural plastics and packaging. Its members are Canada’s leading pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. 

CleanFARMS works with Nova Scotia agriculture retailers to offer recycling programs focused on empty container and bag recycling, as well as the safe disposal of obsolete pesticides and animal medications from farm operators. These programs are all industry-funded and offered at no cost to the farmer. All of these programs help to conserve valuable landfill space, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, and prevent air, land, and water pollution.