Green New Years Resolutions

As January is winding down, the time has come for me to finalize my New Years resolutions. This year I wanted to focus on making my environmentally conscious and sustainable resolutions matter on a local scale. In light of that, here is how I am going to decrease the size of my footprint in 2013:

Backyard gardening composting

1)   Office Composting:

When I became aware of the amount of food that is wasted and thrown into landfills each year I was appalled! I am that person who goes to the ‘discount produce’ section and gets the best deals on food about to be thrown away. So I decided to be responsible for the composting system in our office. I committed to take the compost home every week so we can cut down on our office trash. And, BONUS, it helps with my next resolution. For more info on our food wasting issues:

2)   Back Yard Gardening:

In light of the fact that we throw out a large portion of the food be buy because it rots, I figure if I pick food right out of my garden it wont have a chance to rot before I get to use it. Because I don’t have a lot of time or space (or knowledge for that matter) I am choosing to focus on growing food items that take up little space, provide high yields, and are the very easy to grow.  Some of the things I am growing this year include chard, spinach, kale, radish and tomatoes. My favourite backyard gardening resource is this book:

3)   Volunteer at Farms/Markets:

As I try to gain more knowledge of local green living I will be volunteering at various farms and farm markets this year. In the past I have volunteered at my favourite markets Moss Street Market: and Victoria Downtown Market: but this year I plan to get my hands dirty and volunteer at some of the local farms to get some real gardening knowledge from other members of my community.

I feel like these 3 resolutions will give me a good balance between incorporating daily sustainable changes to all three pillars of my life: Work, Home, and Community.

What are your green resolutions for 2013?

How it all Began: The Story of Gemaco

Gemaco Asphalt shingle recycling

In 1958 the company ‘Gemaco’ was born from the idea ‘Gem of A Company’. The original owner Garnet Marx, started by selling silos and other farm equipment to municipalities and eventually became the first Mercedes Benz dealer in Kelowna.

Gemaco eventually evolved to focus on selling and reusing waste reduction and heavy duty machinery.   

One lazy Okanagan long weekend, a family of professionals and entrepreneurs open to the possibility of owing a business and working together sat on a patio chatting about wanting to take their lives in a different direction. The discussion revolved around potentially buying ‘Gemaco’ a local business that was sale. Terry had been running family businesses his whole life and was tired of the daily grind. 

About a month later, in Sept 2007, Gemaco was purchased by a team of passionate and driven individuals.  

They knew right away they would have to offer something more. Terry began learning about the various equipment Gemaco offered and was drawn to the Rotochopper RG1 Shingle Grinder.  The team attended the 4th Annual Shingle Grinding Forum in 2009 and re-affirmed their  decision to branch out into an asphalt shingle recycling company.

Hilary came on board working in the company, January 2010, and in February 2010 the first solely dedicated shingle recycling facility in the lower mainland was opened.

 It has been a perfect storm for Terry Charles who states “I am finally in no rush to retire. I’m inspired and enjoying work. Every day I get to do what I love: talking to people, business development, inventing or rather reinventing and spending priceless time with family all while making the world a little bit greener”.Gemaco Asphalt Shingle Recycling

Road to Recycling : Asphalt Shingles in BC

Way back in May Hilary Hanna of Gemaco Sales presented at the RCBC Zero Waste Conference in Whistler, BC.  Below is her full presentation video. This is one you don’t want to miss!

How do you know when to replace your roof?

when to replace roof

Photo from Flickr

Being a homeowner myself, I was doing some research on what the telltale signs are for replacing you roof. I did some research, and The Money Pit summed up the symptoms of an old roof best. You can read the entire article here. I have summarized the main points:

Missing Granules.  If granules are missing on the surface of the shingle, exposing the asphalt or fiberglass mat below, it can decrease the life of your roof. Areas of missing granules indicate it might be time to replace the roof.

Buckling.  A number of factors can cause shingles to buckle. If buckling is caused by wrinkled felt below the shingle, a roofing professional can simply remove the affected shingles, cut the wrinkle and replace the shingles. If the cause is poor ventilation, you’ll need to add ventilation to the attic space to allow heat and moisture to escape and keep attic temperatures lower.roof replacement tips

If buckling shingles go untreated they will begin to crack and tear and will need to be replaced immediately to avoid significant damage to the roof or roof deck which can lead to leaks and rotting.

Curling.  Curled edges on shingles can be a result of improper fastening (such as high nails or too few nails), poor roof ventilation or lack of a back-coating on the shingles. Curling is more common in organic shingles such as wood and will often start at the bottom edge of the shingle. Contact a roofing professional as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the roof

Rotting.  Rotting is caused when the mat at the core of the shingle absorbs moisture.  Replace rotted shingles with ones made from non-organic compounds which resist moisture and are less likely to rot. To determine if a professional is needed, look for shingle irregularities. Depending upon the roof, these irregularities appear as discoloration, black spots or large spaces of missing color granules. If these signs are present consult a professional

Blistering.  Blisters are sometimes found in non-organic shingles and are caused by trapped moisture in the shingle. If blistered shingles break open they can leave shingles susceptible to other damage such as granule loss, color fading and may even lead to water leakage and should be replaced. A punctured blistered shingle will be easily spotted because it will likely appear to have black spots.

Ceiling Spots.  Stains on your indoor ceilings may be caused by a leaking roof. Check your attic to find the source of the leak, and examine the rafters for leaks that travel away from the original source. On the exterior, check the chimney and vents for cracks in the flashing.

Problems specific to wood shakes include

Moss/Algae growth.  Algae can reduce the long-term performance of the roof. Replace damaged shakes with moss/algae resistant ones.

Splitting.  Splitting can be the result of natural aging or caused by stress, such as walking on the roof. Small cracks can be caulked, but larger ones require the damaged shakes to be replaced.

Termite damage.  Wooden shakes provide sustenance for termites. To exterminate termites, the home must be tented and fumigated. After the termites are gone, replace the affected shakes with new ones.

All tear off asphalt shingles can be recycled on the lower mainland at Gemaco’s Shingle Grinding Facility. To find out where to recycle the rest of your roofing and demolition waste in BC check out Recycle BC’s Recyclopedia.


Happy Recycling!

10 (+1) Tips for getting started with Recycling

Have you always thought about being a recycler, but never got around to setting up an effective recycling system in your house? Well here are 10 (+1) tips every effective recycling household should know (adapted from Country Home Magazine):

1. Find a convenient place to collect recyclable items that is out of sight. Most things come from the kitchen, making it a good spot to set up a recycling center.

2. Recycling lets you put your favorite old containers, bins, or baskets to use. Assign containers for glass, plastic, and aluminum. To avoid messes, choose solid containers for storing items such as glass jars or cans that may have a sticky residue.

3. Don’t throw out plastic bags. Take them back to grocery stores where they are collected and reused to make plastic lumber.

4. Check the bottom of plastic items to identify what type of plastic they are. If the type is not recycled at your local center, consider ways to reuse the container.

5. Save water and time when recycling cans and bottles. You no longer need to rinse them out or remove their labels.

6. Recycle junk mail or reuse it as scratch paper, or better yet, opt-out of certain junk-mailing lists at

7. Newspapers, magazines, and white paper can all be recycled as long as the paper is clean and dry. Plastic wrap, stickers, or rubber bands should be removed, but staples and plastic window envelopes are OK.

8. Recycle worn-out rechargeable batteries like those used in cell phones, computers, or power tools. Go to to find a drop-off location in your area.

9. Divvy up recycling duties among family members and sort items on a daily basis.

10. Print out this list of commonly recycled materials. Post it where you recycle for easy access

10 + 1. And last but not least, make informed decisions about recycling de-construction waste when doing home renovation projects. For info on recycling shingles into roads check out Gemaco Environmental Solutions 

Going Green – In more ways then 1

Nikos Kallas of MET Fine Printers had proved that greening your business can be profitable as well as fulfililng.

Before introducing its recycling program, Kallas added, MET spent about $3,000 per month on waste disposal. Now, it spends just $300 on average and even generates a small revenue from recycling waste

We are reaching an age of awareness where consumers are starting to realize that there are greener options out there for pretty much everything. As the implications of human actions become common knowledge people are willing to pay a bit more for environmentally conscious products.

Behavioural change is the KEY to success for many of these greener companies that have to pay a higher price for a sustainable product. So make your voice heard, and vote green with your wallet when making purchasing decisions.

See a complete list of green companies that Gemaco works with here.

To read more about the MET in the Vancouver Sun click here

Recycling Council of British Columbia Zero Waste Challenge

Well, here we are at the Westin Resort and Spa in Whistler and are well into the conference proceedings. I am feeling very inspired, supported and at home with my recycling peers. The desire to reinvent, create, and be part of a positive change in our lower mainland world is alive and thriving among the 300ish attendees.

We started off being entertained (read inspired) by a group of kids from Brakendale Elementary School. They sung songs of “voices of nature”, change, and asked us to be responsible as they were “counting on us” for a environmentally healthy future.

I was able to manage the lump in my throat listening while listening to the lyrics and watching the school children perform.

We are very excited to continue the conference and share in the desire to make a positive difference in our world.

Written By Hilary Hanna, Owner, Gemaco Sales

RCI Annual General Meeting Update

Gemaco’s Hilary Hanna recently attended the RCI Annual General Meeting & Conference on Feb 1, 2012.

As Vice President and an Owner of Gemaco, she represented the asphalt shingle recycling initiative by speaking to the group.  Hoping to educate and inspire those attending, Hilary spoke about the importance of repurposing this waste stream, the largest entering landfills in Metro Vancouver currently.  The RCI is an international association of professional consultants, architects, and engineers who specialize in the specification and design of roofing, waterproofing and exterior wall systems. In March of 2006, RCI (formerly Roof Consultants Institute) expanded its mission and service scope to include waterproofing and exterior walls with the understanding that roofing issues often influence the entire building envelope.

Gemaco’s Facility is currently prominently featured on the right hand side of the page in the news section!

Statistics Your Kids Will Thank You For

What a load of trash – all diverted from our landfills!

Since 2010 we at Gemaco have been patting ourselves and our ecopartners on the back for a job well done, but when we sat back and looked at the numbers we began to realize how significant the impact of one small team of passionate individuals can do.

Have a look at these numbers and if you get shivers like I did, leave us a comment:

2011 2010
3104 loads 1225 loads
7466 Tonnes 3393.70 T
Averages: Averages:
Trucks per day: 11.75 Trucks per day: 5
Tons per day: 28.28 Tons per day: 13.7
Tons per week: 143.57 Tons per week: 66.5
Tons per month: 622.16 Tons per month: 283.0
Metal recycled: 78.23 T Metal recycled: 37.59 T
Wood recycled: 259.33 T Wood recycled: 80.83 T
Plastic bottles saved from landfill: 4906 Plastic bottles saved from landfill: 1426
Tons used in roads: 6516 T Tons used in roads: 1152.16
Tons used for fuel: 803 T Tons used for fuel: 131.94
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