On April 19, 2012, the Region of Waterloo, Ontario held a special ceremony to honour Nyle Ludolph, who was instrumental in creating the first blue box recycling program.
Family, friends and dignitaries, including MPP Elizabeth Witmer and MP Peter Braid, gathered to name the region’s materials recycling centre the Nyle Ludolph Materials Recycling Centre and to unveil a memorial photo honouring Ludolph.
Ludolph, who passed away last year at the age of 84, was known locally as the “Father of the Blue Box”. Passionate about recycling and reducing waste, he believed that recycling was something we could all do to make a difference.
The concept of collecting recyclable materials curbside in a specific ‘blue box’ container was unique.
In 1981, the recycling program was piloted to 1,100 households in Kitchener, and 250 homes were given a test container to hold recyclables in the home and set out at the curb -- a little blue box. In the first month alone, 16,379 kilograms of recyclables were collected -- triple the amount expected.
“With his blue box, Nyle Ludolph left a visible legacy that extends well beyond our Region,” says Ken Seiling, Regional Chair. “He led by example with an enduring vision for the environment, and the continuing success of the blue box program proves that one person can make a great and positive difference to the world.”
Ludolph remained passionate about reducing waste and in the last few years became involved with the region in promoting the green bin. He believed composting was another logical way to help the environment.
The region’s materials recycling centre opened in 1991 to process collected blue box recyclables and was the first community-sized sorting centre in Ontario. At the time of its opening, only newspaper, glass and metal cans were collected.
Today, materials collected in the blue box also include plastic containers, milk and juice cartons, fine paper and cardboard, and retail plastic bags.
The building was expanded in 2009 to handle the increased volume of material now being collected through the blue box program. Over 36,000 tonnes of recyclables were recovered in 2011.
The recycling centre embodies Ludolph’s pioneering spirit; the ongoing success of the blue box program and resulting expansion of the building is a testament to his passion for the environment and vision of waste as a valuable resource.