Pirjo RaitsThe Chronicle
Enthusiasm for recycling in the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) is high, sitting at 70 per cent, one of the highest user rates in the province. But it also has the highest contamination rate on Vancouver Island and one of the highest in B.C. That rate sits at 8 per cent and the ideal would be 3 per cent.
“Our community is really concerned with recycling, our community is dedicated to recycling. They want to do the right thing,” said Jon Lefebure, Chair of the CVRD and North Cowichan Mayor.
But recycling is a bit more complicated than tossing things into the blue totes.
“It’s more complicated in what can go in and what can’t,” said Lefebure.
The problem the CVRD is having is that people are a little too passionate sometimes and residents are not utilizing the totes properly, and they have launched The Recycle 2.0: Recycle Right at the Curb campaign.
“The biggest concern is people bagging their recyclables,” said Jason Adair, Superintendent Solid Waste Operations for the CVRD. “The material goes to the sorting line and they can’t open it because they don’t know what is inside. It may all be well and good but it is unsafe to open, there could be hazardous materials. Leave it loose in the tote.”
If it cannot be sorted it will end up in the landfill and that is the exact opposite of what recycling is all about.
Plastic bags are not accepted in the blue totes because they get tangled up in automated sorting equipment and can cause expensive facility closures. The trucks which pick up recyclables have two compartments, one for garbage and the other for recyclables. Recyclables are not sorted prior to ending up in the sorting centers. Plastics can be dropped off at many locations throughout the region, including Peerless Road Recycling Centre, 10830 Westdowne Road.
Plastic bags and plastic film used to be accepted but are not now. In 2014 Multi-Material BC (MMBC) was formed in response to a new provincial recycling regulation that requires producers to cover the costs of recycling packaging and printed paper they supply into the BC market. MMBC finances and is responsible for the performance of most residential recycling programs for packaging and printed paper throughout the province.
The CVRD will be placing stickers on totes if a resident places plastic bags, clothing or food waste in the blue totes. For those who do well, they will be getting a gold star, thereby encouraging discussions with neighbours. There are new items which are now accepted for recycling and they include; hot and cold beverage cups and lids, milk cartons, aerosol cans and caps, and plastic gardening pots. Staff will be auditing curbside recycling and checking for plastic bags and other contaminants. The blue totes have GPS tracking systems and the trucks have cameras, allowing data to be collected over the year.
“We are trying to make it as simple as possible,” said Adair.
For more information and a full list of what is accepted for recycling go to, card.bc.ca/recycling