In a press conference last Monday, Lynden Park Mall unveiled a groundbreaking new environmental initiative. The mall is implementing an organic recycling program, the second in any Canadian mall.

Working with the Brantford-based design firm, Octopus Red, Lynden Park Mall has branded this initiative a “mission to zero.” The ultimate goal of the program is to divert 91.3 per cent of the waste from the mall’s food court away from landfills or incineration. Currently, the mall produces roughly 700 kg of waste every week; mall management hopes that this can be reduced to a mere 70 kg.

Restaurants in the food court have been following organic recycling practices for several years. This, however, is the first organic recycling program in the province to actively engage the consumer base of the mall. The race to zero has introduced new garbage receptacles to the food court so that customers can contribute to the waste reduction movement.

The new bins feature three openings: one for traditional recycling, another for organic waste and the third for garbage. The mall has also restructured cleaning operations in the food court to reduce energy consumption by washing trays in bulk instead of constantly throughout the day.

Mall staff are working with government-certified environmental agency C.D. Sonter to ensure their efforts are recognized.

“If you divert 90 per cent or more of your garbage out of landfill or incineration, you get the zero waste status,” explains Krista Toussaint, a marketing coordinator for this project. “So once we achieve it, we’ll be the first shopping centre in Canada to achieve that status.”

Based on a current environmental audit, the mall diverts only 4 per cent of its waste – a far cry from the proposed 90 per cent. Overall, the mall currently has a 63.5 per cent recycling diversion level, which is roughly 25 per cent higher than the national average for shopping centres.

Recently elected mayor, Chris Friel, was in attendance at Monday’s press conference. He thinks this initiative is “a great idea” and supported the widespread advertising for the campaign.

“With thousands coming in here every week, putting [recycling] front and centre in their minds, making sure they’re thinking about doing this is important,” says Friel.

The mission to zero is only the most recent of Lynden Park Mall’s environmental plans. In addition to waste reduction and recycling, the mall is run entirely on green power – contributing to its reception of the Recycling Council of Ontario’s gold award in 2009.

If Lynden Park Mall continues its efforts to support the environment, it may very well become the greenest mall in Canada.

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