The Regional District of Central Okanagan has issued a reminder to residents to think twice before putting anything in their curbside recycling bins.
“Don’t just put it in your recycle bin because you think it might be recyclable,” said Travis Kendel, RDCO engineering services manager. “Chances are you think it might be recyclable, but it probably isn’t recyclable.”
In recent months, there have been so many contaminants found in recycling bins, Recycle BC has imposed hefty fines within the regional district.
“RecycleBC has been very lenient,” Kendel said. ” We’ve been putting in our best effort for the last few years to really get our contamination levels down and unfortunately, we haven’t seen the increase in performance that we would like to. Recycle BC, they’re starting to crack down on us”
In the last quarter of 2022, a total of $55,000 in penalties were applied to the City of Kelowna and the City of West Kelowna.
“Every time audits are done and RecycleBC finds contaminants that don’t belong there, it’s a $5,000 fine for every truck that’s contaminated,” Kendel told Global News.
Helen Sidney named Vernon Good Citizen of the Year
At the Cascades recycling plant in Kelowna, staff have to sort recyclable items from the contaminants they see far too often.
“Feminine hygiene products, we get a lot of diapers, adult diapers, glass is still a huge contamination … needles on a regular basis, knives, more and more knives, sharp objects. A lot of unfortunate things like food waste food,” said Steve Fast, production supervisor with Cascades.
Fast added that the problem of contaminants seems to have gotten worse.
“We ship out a huge garbage bin every day of just garbage, of material we get,” Fast said.
“So it never seems to stop. It hasn’t gotten better in the years, and, in some ways, it gets worse, with the addition of some of the new products that they see, like chip bags and foil bags.”
According to CORD, waste audits conducted regularly by Recycle BC show contamination in the region’s curbside recycling carts average around eight per cent, well above allowable levels of three per cent.
“We’re floating somewhere between two per cent on our best days and 20 per cent on our worst days,” said Kendel. “And that’s wildly unacceptable.”
Kendel said that the recent fines imposed affect every resident because they are covered by taxpayer dollars.
“That $55,000 in fines could be used by each community in a way that’s most beneficial to them,” Kendel said.
Kendel hopes the fines remind the public to check the guide on what can and cannot be recycled.
The CORD guide can be found here.
Fast, for his part, hopes residents also consider staff members at the recycling plant before throwing anything and everything into the blue bin.
“Please remember that people have to touch this stuff,” Fast said.
“So if you wouldn’t want to stick your hand in your own bin because you’re going to throw in your garbage and your diapers and your needles, please remember and respect our staff and their safety before it before it goes anywhere else.”
What to do with your old phones, gadgets and other e-waste
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.