More than 30 years after the first blue box recycling program was introduced in Waterloo Region, the program is an undeniable success – but there’s still more that can be done.

“(We get) 800 to 900 tonnes of garbage each day at the landfill,” says Kathleen Barsoum of the region’s waste management department.

Waste management costs Waterloo Region taxpayers $42.5 million per year.

Nearly half of that amount is taken up by efforts to keep yard waste, organics and recyclable materials away from the landfill – but in return for those efforts, the region takes in about $3 million annually when it sells its accumulated recyclables.

But if taxpayers would do even more to reduce, reuse and recycle, waste management officials say even more money could be saved.

“Why throw something out that can be used again?” says operations supervisor Joe Cardoso.

That’s part of the reason why the region allowed Habitat for Humanity to set up its ReStore operation right at the landfill.

In 2010, the ReStore took in 700 tonnes of items people had brought to the landfills, earning them $1 million in the process.

“We can turn that into well-needed dollars for Habitat for Humanity so that we can build homes in partnership with low-income families here within Waterloo Region,” says ReStore director Rob Snider.

Taking goods to the ReStore also saves the region on landfill space.

Barsoum says the region wants to get residents thinking of the landfill as a general space for waste disposal of all sorts, rather than just one method of disposal.

“We want this to be a sort of one-stop shopping place,” she says.

Bicycles have been another bumper crop saved from the landfill.

Last year, the region diverted nine tonnes’ worth of bicycles from the landfill. Some were harvested for parts while others were rebuilt and ridden away.

CTV’s David Imrie is showing you ways to turn trash into cash this week on CTV News.