Central Okanagan authorities cracking down on sloppy recyclers - InfoNews

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Central Okanagan authorities cracking down on sloppy recyclers

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
July 14, 2019 - 1:00 PM

KELOWNA - In an effort to clean up its recycling act, the Regional District of the Central Okanagan is sending “ambassadors” to look into as many as 21,000 blue recycling bins this summer.

So far, they’ve stuck “Oops notices” on 1,982 carts and left 51 behind at the curb because they held inappropriate stuff.

“The key for us is working with residents to keep garbage (things that have never been accepted in the program) out of our curbside blue bins,” Jodie Foster, the regional district’s manager of corporate communications, said in an email.

There are also materials that can be recycled but have to be dropped off at depots rather than being put in recycling bins. That includes styrofoam, plastic packaging, glass and plastic bags that she referred to as “tanglers” that get caught in the sorting machines.

“Some items are difficult to sort,” Cynthia Coates, the regional distritcts’ waste reduction facilitator said in an email. “For example, plastic bags ‘act’ like paper on the sort line and can end up in paper bales. Glass breaks and is dangerous to the workers. Hazardous wastes are also dangerous for workers and the facility. Plastic bags also wrap around equipment, causing shut down.”

This is all in an effort to keep recycling material clean before it goes to the Cascades sorting facility. That way, it avoids potentially stiff fines from Recycle B.C., which is trying to cut the level of contamination down to three per cent or less in order to maintain re-sale markets for the material.

The current Waste Reduction Ambassador blitz began in May and runs for 15 weeks through to August and will cover all areas of the regional district.

But, the “left behind” rates could increase dramatically later in August when the crews go back to high contamination areas to re-inspect carts to see if people are getting the message.

Even before the inspections started, ongoing efforts to educate residents through things like cameras on trucks has already cut into contamination rates.

In a report to the regional board in April, Kelowna showed an eight per cent contamination rate for 2018. That dropped to 6.9 per cent by the end of March.

West Kelowna was also at 6.9 per cent in March but Lake Country was at nine per cent. Peachland figures were only available for December 2018 and stood at 5.5 per cent.

If recycling doesn’t get down to below three per cent, fines of $5,000 per load can be imposed on the offending municipality. That rate varies by city size with Peachland subject to a $1,250 fine while West Kelowna and Kelowna could be hit with $5,000 per load. That’s just in the first year. In Kelowna, it could go up to $20,000 per load after four years. Those costs, if incurred, would be passed on to taxpayers.

No fines have been levied in the Central Okanagan yet.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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