In the Beginning …
It’s hard to remember a time before Blue Boxes and municipal recycling, but for Robert and Louise, that feels like yesterday and is indelibly inked as the seed of RA.
In 1989, galvanized by garbage, Louise and Robert started Recycling Alternative with a hatchback and a trash-busting bug to help offices recycle their office paper.
They quickly outgrew the hatchback, graduated to a van, then trucks, and began to broaden their service to include bottles and cans, shredding services, electronic waste, organics and zero waste programs. Fortunately, by the early 1990’s, adding to their voices in the wilderness of waste, public awareness and government policy began to focus on recycling and waste reduction efforts, and the stage was set to ramp up operations and dive head first into some serious trash-busting.
The Recycling Alternative is still 100% locally owned and operated and has grown to be recognized as a local leader in innovative approaches to recycling and community partnerships. Committed to local solutions and inclusive employment, Recycling Alternative has operated in the False Creek Flats for over 25 years.
In partnership with the Downtown Eastside non-profit bottle depot United We Can, and working closely with the City of Vancouver, Recycling Alternative forged the opening of Vancouver’s first recycling hub – the greenHUB, a co-location model focused on local recycling, materials recovery and the creation of inclusive green jobs close to the inner city.
Over our years in operation, Recycling Alternative has initiated and co-developed innovative waste reduction and recycling models, through community partnerships including the Vancouver Biodiesel Coop, the Food Scraps Drop Spot, Vancouver’s greenHUB, Recycle In Strathcona, SHIFT Delivery’s recycling collections by trike, collaborative recycling programs with the Binners Project, and continues to provide recycling services in-kind to numerous local festivals and community organizations.
Robert and Louise
Born and raised in Vancouver until he was 10, Robert grew up in London and attended school in the UK. Thankfully, Robert’s background in mechanical engineering has been a saving grace at RA, and has been the driving force behind our operations as we have grown from strength to strength over the last 20 years under his guidance and mechanical aptitude! Robert is a frequent speaker on innovation in the waste and recycling sector at international conferences. When not recycling the world or inventing new trash-busting trucks, Robert can be found hitting the slopes and walking his very large dog in the forests of North Vancouver.
Louise grew up in Vancouver and studied Political Science, Spanish Literature, and Education. Before her trash-busting days, Louise attended school in Mexico, lived in Italy for 3 yrs and spent 5 years teaching middle school in Edinburgh. Off the trash-busting tracks, Louise hits a mean backhand, sings soul gospel, paints ceramics, and possesses an exaggerated predilection for trash-talking.
Louise sits on a number of community boards including the Cultch, Our Social Fabric, the National Zero Waste Council, and the advisory of the Downtown Community Court. In May 2012 she received the ‘Woman of Distinction Award’ for her work in environment and sustainability. Recognized nationally as one of Canada’s most prestigious awards for women, the Women of Distinction Awards honours women whose outstanding achievements contribute to the well-being and future of our community. In 2013 Louise was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal by local MLA Libby Davies.