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Kamloops changing tactics to deal with contaminated recycling

City staff will now put contaminated items into a clear plastic bag so residents can see what isn't accepted.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / City of Kamloops
January 29, 2020 - 4:23 PM

The City of Kamloops is cracking down on improper recyclers in an effort to meet the goals set through Recycle B.C.

The City signed a deal to be a collector with Recycle B.C. in April of 2017, and now the producer-funded initiative takes packages and paper products from the river city, according to a City of Kamloops media release.

Through the provincial program, the minimum amount of contaminated recycling is set at a target of three per cent. Sanitation staff work to remove any improper items and leave an information sheet for the resident in an effort to curb similar mistakes.

Kamloopsians aren’t doing a good enough job at following the guidelines, so there is new education, inspection and enforcement practices in place, the City says.

This year, staff who have found contaminated items in a recycling bin will remove the item and place it in a clear plastic bag so residents get a clearer understanding of what isn’t accepted. The model was first adopted by the City of Surrey and is endorsed by Recycle B.C.

Staff will leave the contaminated item in a reusable recycling bag and include educational information on what is and isn’t accepted. If the contamination in a bin is too high, the bin won’t be collected, and the resident must remove the contaminants themselves.

In cases where an individual uses a recycling bin for garbage, yard waste or construction waste, the City will issue a warning to the resident informing them of the bylaw infraction. Continued misuse of recycling bins and putting in items that aren’t accepted can eventually land a resident a $100 fine, as staff will electronically keep track of any instances of misuse.

The City is also working with property and building managers to help ensure that the communally-used multi-family bins are kept clear of contaminants. Tenants have been made aware of the accepted materials, and although the percentage of contaminated bins has dropped from 26 per cent to 11 per cent between the first and third quarter of 2019, the City still hopes to see that number decrease.

"A lot of the contamination we are seeing are materials that are recyclable at depots only," says Graham Lamont, the City's sanitation and sign shop supervisor, in the release. "Curbside and multi-family recycling bins and carts are for plastic and metal containers, cartons, paper and cardboard only. Things like glass, soft plastics (like plastic bags), foam packaging, electronics, scrap metal and clothing must be recycled elsewhere, like a depot.”

If you aren’t sure what is or isn’t recycled, download the City’s free WasteWise app, which will tell what is and isn’t recyclable, and if you should put it in the bin or take it to a recycling depot. For more information on the City’s recycling process, click here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 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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