Sturgeon Refinery

Waste Into Worth Challenge



Winning projects have been selected!

Half a million dollars of recycling revenue later, NWR creates challenge for local communities

95% is a lot.

If it’s a measure of fullness, you can’t get much more in. If it’s a grade on an exam, it’s worthy of celebration. If it’s a stat in sports, you’re probably in the Hall of Fame.

For a newly built diesel refinery, it’s the kind of score you hope to achieve on your waste recycling efforts. The NWR Sturgeon Refinery did just that – 95.04% to be exact.

One Pound of Scrap at a Time

Since shovels broke ground at the refinery site in Sturgeon County near Redwater, rows of giant bins were in place to collect wood, drywall, aluminum, steel, organics, concrete, bottles, and more. Construction crews were encouraged to use materials efficiently, but a project as large as a diesel refinery inevitably produces waste. Thanks to a dedicated focus on recycling as much waste as possible, over 95% was diverted from landfills.

Some of the waste, like wood, which accounted for just over 50% of all the waste collected, was simply reused and recycled into other products and purposes. Other forms of waste, such as scrap steel, aluminum, and insulated wire actually generated a small amount of revenue for each pound that was hauled away to a local scrap metal recycler where it was melted down, refined, and made into a wide array of new products.

All that scrap combined for a total weight of over 6.6 million pounds. At a value of only a few cents per pound, or maybe up to a dollar a pound depending on the item, the recycled material doesn’t seem worth much. But 6.6 million pounds of scrap, one pound at a time, added up to several hundred thousand dollars over the past few years.

One Water Bottle at a Time

Scrap metal wasn’t the only revenue generator during the construction phase. A thirsty workforce of over 8,000 people at peak construction guzzled water, sports drinks, pop, and juice by the hundreds of 500 ml bottles. Ensuring there were bottle recycle bins in every permit shack, office trailer, and lunch room allowed the collection of close to three million beverage containers. Lined up end to end, that’s enough to stretch from the refinery to the United States border.

All those bottles are worth ten cents a piece. When you haul a bag full to your local bottle depot, the refund amounts to a month or two of Netflix subscription. But recycling beverage containers at a mega project, one bottle at a time, generated several hundred thousand dollars since construction began.

Recycling Revenue Creates Community Investment

Add together the several hundred thousand dollars each from scrap metal and beverage containers and you’ve got yourself a community investment fund that would make any local non profit organization giddy with ideas and potential.

The Sturgeon Refinery did just that – now over $500,000 to be exact. All of the recycling revenue was earmarked for community investment in Sturgeon County and surrounding areas. To date, over half a million dollars has been funneled into the community to boost schools, local events, 4-H programming, seniors facilities, food hampers, and more. Students have access to archery sets, iPads, and playgrounds that they didn’t before. Libraries have expanded literacy programs and resources. Volunteer fire departments have replaced bunker gear. Food banks have supplied one of life’s basic necessities to local families.

In all cases, the community investment funding provided valuable support to local organizations. It began with a pound of scrap metal, an empty beverage container, and a decision at construction kick off to turn waste into worth.

How do YOU turn waste into worth?

We’re celebrating our recycling efforts and want you to join through the NWR Waste into Worth challenge.

Community groups based in Sturgeon County can apply for funding to kick start or enhance their recycling project. It can be a brand new initiative or one that needs a funding boost to help it grow. Either way, we want to see your creative plans to take waste in our communities and turn it into something valuable. Applications with the best ideas will be awarded funding up to $3,000 to help make your idea a reality.

We couldn’t think of a better way to recognize half a million dollars of community investment through recycling than to invite local organizations to join us in reducing waste in our communities.

It’s easy to apply! Deadline is October 19, 2018.

Completed application or questions:

Kids learn to seed, weed, water, and harvest a garden through the local Grow Your Own project based in Fort Saskatchewan. Produce is donated to food banks in the region at the end of each growing season. NWR funding helped support the annual Harvest Festival in August.


Two future engineers learn the basics of mini robots and programming in Legal School’s new Makerspace classroom thanks to funding from NWR’s community investment program.

Collection points for empty beverage containers and scrap metal all across the Sturgeon Refinery site make it easy for our construction and operations teams to recycle. Joining in on the recycling activities are NWR Vice President of Engineering Jim Quinn (left) and Manager of Engineering Shane Schultz (right).