Stuart Horn

COLUMN: RDCK recycling changes not a waste

RDCK administrator Stuart Horn explains the rationale behind changes to recycling in the Nelson, Kaslo, and Salmo areas.

Last month, the Regional District of Central Kootenay changed the way recyclable material was collected at its depots throughout the central subregion (which runs from Area D north of Kaslo through to Nelson, Areas E and F, Salmo and Area G). This change has been met with some frustration among you, the taxpaying public, in regards to the length of time it now takes to drop off your recyclables.I am writing on behalf of the RDCK to explain the rationale behind the changes. We want to continue working with all of you towards our shared goal of zero waste in the Kootenays.Prior to Oct. 19, recycling was accepted in blue bags and collected in larger, 40-cubic yard bins at all recycling depots in the central subregion. RDCK staff had to pick up these larger bins more frequently in their un-compacted state, with a single depot serviced per trip. The material was then trucked to Castlegar for processing in the same state as you dropped it — in its blue bag or as unfolded cardboard, un-compacted.On Oct. 19, we moved to smaller bins that require you to put loose recyclables through a hole and flattened cardboard through a slot. Collecting the material like this allows it to be compacted in a way the larger bins, with full blue bags and unfolded cardboard, did not.The decision to move to the smaller bins with these openings was made for a number of reasons:1) multiple small bins can be picked up by the collection truck, which then compacts the material on board, allowing the contractor to service multiple depots on a single trip;2) the contractor’s truck visits the sites less frequently, which, when combined with 1) above further reduces kilometres travelled, lowering both costs and our carbon footprint. This is a significant step forward. The amount of time the trucks used to spend on the road put an environmental damper on all the good work you were doing by recycling;3) the changes will make the RDCK’s eventual transition to the provincially legislated Multi Material BC program easier (for more information on MMBC, visit multimaterialbc.ca);4) bears cannot climb into the bins;5) individuals looking for refundable containers cannot climb into the bins. This may not seem like a big deal, but if someone is hurt while scavenging, the liability to the RDCK could be immense. Any lawsuit in which the RDCK is named is a cost to the taxpayers.We knew the bins would be a significant change for a number of people. This has become even more evident in the past few weeks.When we instituted this change in our west subregion in 2011, we experienced a period of frustration that lasted awhile. Nevertheless, as the public became used to the new system, the new way became the norm. After rolling out that successful recycling campaign, we thought the central subregion transition would go the same way.The RDCK is not trying to make recycling more difficult for you, nor are we trying to discourage you from recycling. As the stewards of recycling in our region, we want to find the most economical, efficient, and environmentally friendly way of doing things in order to preserve this amazing place we all call home while having it cost as little as possible for you.These bins are currently the best answer. They prevent garbage from entering the recycling stream. Yes, it takes more time to deposit your recyclables. And unfortunately, kitty litter buckets do not fit through the holes. We wish they did.We acknowledge that this change has resulted in you having to take more time to recycle. We apologize for the inconvenience. We believe the benefits of this new system will not only save you money but will be better for our environment.Thank you for not throwing your recycling in the garbage. Thank you for taking the extra time to reduce your waste, reduce our carbon footprint, and reduce all of our tax bills. We’re all in this together. Thank you for helping us make this work.

Stuart Horn is the chief administrator of the Regional District of Central Kootenay.

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