A local business that has shown commitment to recycling, is a finalist for the Thrive North Business Challenge.
Katrina Slorstad owner of Imperative Recycling in Fort St. James, is a finalist and will be competing in the Best Growth Opportunity category.
The 12 finalists from across northern B.C. will compete for one of three $10,000 prizes in this year’s business challenge.
“Entrepreneurs are the backbone of local communities,” said Joanne Norris, ThriveNorth Project Manager. “It takes courage, grit, and perseverance to turn an idea into something real. We’re proud to support those that decide to take the leap.”
The annual competition gives new and aspiring northern B.C. business owners between the ages of 18 and 39 the opportunity to showcase their idea for a $10,000 prize to make their dream a reality.
The finalists this year were selected from 65 entries across Northern B.C. Those who made it through to the final round will now spend the next few weeks preparing for the live pitch competition in front of a panel of judges and a live audience in Terrace on May 7 at the R.E.M. Lee Theatre.
Online voting is now open for the People’s Choice Award, worth $5,000. Online votes are worth one point each, while votes cast in person at the competition are worth five.
Meanwhile, Slorstad said if she wins the competition, she would purchase the local bottle depot and would upgrade the building to begin accepting end-of-life electronics in addition to beverage containers.
She said she would purchase sorting tables so people can sort large cans and containers with ease. Following that she wants to expand the shed to house the end-of-life electronics.
As someone who has been in recovery for drug and alcohol addiction for four years, Slorstad said she is also looking at ways to hire people who have come out of drug or alcohol treatment centres, to help them transition into other jobs.
“I would love to see people who I meet and are coming out of treatment centres, to kind of have a place to go, like a transition job. I go to twelve step programs and people come back from treatments, they are clean and sober and then they fall back into the same lifestyle and may not be ready to go back to their full time job,” she explained.
“But sitting around at home is not helping them either so I would love to have a three month program, where they come and work for me at the depot and sort of do that transition into a regular job.”
The main challenge is funding for such a program, Slorstad said, adding she is currently looking for ways to get funding for the program that would hire people facing barriers.
As for her love for the environment, Slorstad said she has always had a deep appreciation for the environment and some may even call her the Eco-Warrior.
“When I was in school I was definitely voted most like to join Greenpeace,” she said.
Her business Imperative recycling started in 2011. Slorstad serves the rural, residential and commercial population of Fort St. James.
When asked what led to the career in recycling, she said, “I had a really strong desire to not go back to the mill. I had my first child while I was on maternity leave and I decided to start my own company because I didn’t want to have to work at the mill my whole life. I actually ended up working still full time for the mill, for two years basically till I was making enough to quit.”
Slorstad also worked for Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation managing their Recycle BC contract. Nak’azdli had been providing recycling service to Fort St. James, but because of their own internal priorities they were not looking to continue offering the service.
The District of Fort St. James is now taking over the Recycle BC contract from Nak’azdli and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako is taking over the depot.
“It doesn’t affect my business, but it affects my manager’s position with Nak’azdli. Obviously I don’t have that position anymore come June 12, which is unfortunate since I have been a part of it since the start but these things happen and I do feel that the changes that are coming with the District and the regional district stepping up and getting involved will be the best for the town,” Slorstad added.
Her business idea of buying the local bottle depot does not clash with the District’s recycling program as it is a separate entity. Beverage containers are handled through a different contract, so has nothing to do with the Recycle BC contract, she said.
Slorstad added that people need to educate themselves more and also realize that all our garbage goes to a landfill site. And with the different recycling programs now being offered in the District, she hopes more people will recycle.
With files from Quinn Bender