The Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) board and Recycle BC have agreed on a plan that would see Recycle BC build, run and pay for 12 recycling depots in rural areas of the West Kootenay. In addition, the RDCK would operate and fund a number of its own satellite depots.
RDCK CAO Stuart Horn says Recycle BC first offered seven depots but RDCK staff has since negotiated 12.
This new system will replace the current one sometime in 2019.
The location of the 12 core depots to be run by Recycle BC has not yet been determined. They will be different from the current bins throughout the area, in that they will be fenced and staffed, and will cost RDCK taxpayers nothing.
Staff members at the depots will help residents sort their recycling which will cut down on contamination, currently a big problem.
The satellite depots — the number and location of which have not been decided — will also be fenced and staffed but all costs will be borne by the RDCK which will deliver the material from the satellite depots to the 12 core depots where it will be taken over by Recycle BC.
The RDCK’s Travis Barrington says Recycle BC sorts materials carefully because otherwise they can’t sell them.
“They need to ensure there is less contamination and that the products they receive are marketable and actually end up being recycled. They have contracts with companies and facilities in BC for everything they collect and it goes through sorting and marketing.”
Recycle BC is a not-for-profit organization that manages residential packaging and paper recycling in BC. It collects and sells recycling in most areas of the province, at no cost to taxpayers. The City of Nelson is an example: the cost of the collection of recycling is born by the manufacturers of the products, who pay Recycle BC, which then pays the city to pick up blue bags from the curb.
But Recycle BC currently doesn’t operate in the rural areas of the RDCK. The regional district operates recycling and residents pay for it through taxation.
Currently the RDCK has 26 depots throughout the region and residents pay about $700,000 per year in taxes to run them. Recycle BC’s presence would reduce this number significantly but it’s unknown by how much until a decision is made about how many RDCK-funded satellite depots will be built.
“The board has to decide what depots to keep,” said Horn, “and what level of service are we going to have outside Recycle BC’s core depots, and where those are going to be.”
Barrington says these decisions will be made before the new year so costs can be incorporated into the 2019 budget.
Contamination of recycled material is a big problem internationally and has led China, the world’s biggest recipient of recycling from other countries, to cut back on the amount it buys, leaving many western countries with stockpiles of material.
Barrington says the most common type of contamination he sees is “things that well-intentioned people think is recyclable but really isn’t, like styrofoam, different kinds of plastic bags like chip bags, and also in some areas people just actually throw their garbage into the recycling if they think they can get away with it.”
Under the current system in the RDCK, recycling is picked up by the contracted company Waste Management, and taken to a facility in Castlegar where staff does some visual sorting and removes contaminants. Sometimes if a load is very contaminated, the whole load is dumped. The accepted material is sent to a facility in Spokane and sorted there, before being sent to markets.
Under Recycle BC the contaminant problem in the RDCK will be lessened because of staff sorting at the local rural depots. Recycle BC has a system of financial penalties for areas whose contaminant rate is too high.
Barrington said Recycle BC’s presence will expand the list of materials than can be recycled in the RDCK.
“It will be everything we accept now plus styrofoam, plus plastic bags but in a separate stream. Also, non-refundable tetra-packs for things like soup and milk substitutes would be accepted as well.”