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General Grants feeling the fall out from Emterra strike

'Mega Bags' full of cardboard waiting to be bailed at General Grants in Sahali.
July 20, 2015 - 9:00 PM

KAMLOOPS – The recycling is piling up in Kamloops as the Emterra Environmental strike enters its fifth week.

While people have been asked to store what they can, the balconies and garages of residents are no competition for the influx General Grants in Sahali is currently seeing.

“I had 26 pallets, and they left four because we literally filled up the truck,” Judith Jordan, manager of the General Grants in Sahali, says.

Usually the truck comes to pick up recycling every two weeks but with the volumes of recyclables coming through the location, the last truck was needed after ten days.

Jordan says before the strike her warehouse would average a pick up of 10 to 13 pallets of bailed cardboard and 'mega bags' of assorted recyclable materials. Since the strike began, her workload has effectively doubled.

She says she has had to turn away large amounts of cardboard and other recycling from businesses or apartment buildings because there simply is nowhere to put it.

Emterra Environmental, contracted to sort the city’s recycling, is currently in the midst of a labour dispute with its employees represented by the Steelworkers Union.

Many have stockpiled their goods, anticipating an earlier end to the strike, only for themselves to have run out of storage space over the last four weeks.

“We will continue to take residential recycling,” she says, but notes everything that comes into General Grants must be sorted.

Jordan says her and her staff have already run into residents unhappy with this rule.

“My garbage bins are locked for a reason. (One customer) didn’t feel like sorting it himself and threw his recycling in the garbage. Well, I was not impressed.” She adds.

Already stretched thin, her staff simply do not have the time to sort the extra recycling and respectfully ask people to bring their goods in already sorted.

 “I literally don’t have anybody,” Jordan says of extra staff.

General Grants makes 'almost nothing' sorting and bailing cardboard; their main revenues stem from pop bottles. The business cannot justify adding staff to cover the extra amounts of recycling because it would actually lose them money, she says. So for now, staff are just extra busy.

“If I don’t get to the cardboard today, I’ll bring it back inside and try to do it tomorrow; if I have the time,” Jordan says.

Public Works Director Jen Fretz says the city has a contract with Emterra Environmental for recycling processing and that is as far as its obligations lie. It has no plans to get involved in the labour dispute.

“Emterra's arrangement with their staff is separate from our agreement and as such, we will not be getting involved,” Fretz says.

In a recent release the city addressed concerns over refunds. While suggestions for refunds on recycling fees, which cost taxpayers about 63 cents per week, have been considered the city anticipates increased pickups when the strike is over, which will result in addional costs once the strike is over.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dana Reynolds at dreynolds@infonews.ca or call 250-819-6089. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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