Regional district begins process to get South Okanagan businesses to recycle more

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is currently conducting a survey of businesses in an effort to improve recycling.
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PENTICTON - The regional district wants to see local businesses recycling more.

To that end, the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has teamed up with Green Step Solutions to conduct a series of workshops and surveys to better understand and find solutions to issues surrounding business recycling.

Andrea Mackintosh with Green Step Solutions says there is no program currently available for businesses to recycle their waste, adding it is currently the business’s responsibility to contact a waste hauler to have their business serviced.

“It’s not provided to them like it is for residential. It’s one of the barriers,” she says.

Mackintosh says it's not typically the responsibility of the regional district to take care of business recycling, but it’s a problem because recyclables are going to the landfill.

"We are working with them to find a solution,” she says.

Mackintosh is currently working on a list of all waste haulers in the region and what services they offer.

“That’s a piece of the puzzle. It’s really hard for some businesses to find that information. It’s not easily available, or all in one spot," she says. Plus she has learned the recycling services may not always be cost effective for some businesses.

A survey being launched this week is intended to get a wider response from business owners.

Mackintosh feels there won’t be a definitive answer for business recycling for the whole region, partly due to community distance and diversity.

“It’s a multi-faceted solution. We’re still trying to figure out what the pieces are for the Okanagan Similkameen.”

"Residential collection is a lot further along, with collection for just about every residence in the regional district,” regional district solid waste coordinator Cameron Baughen says.

He says it appears cost, convenience, access to services and education are the main factors impeding the separation of business waste.

Baughen says businesses may not be taking every opportunity to recycle, and those who don’t may not understand the consequences.

Some businesses take blue bags home for collection, while some just throw everything out, which can result in double or triple fees charged, he says.

“A lot of small businesses are being hit when recyclables are tossed in the trash. If a bin truck collects 20 front end bins and one of them is contaminated (with recyclable material), the whole load is double charged,” he says.

Baughen says the Penticton’s larger employers have proven easier to deal with over the past few years, as they tend to take their own garbage to the dump, which makes it easier to assess the loads and provide advice.

“We’ve had a lot of success working with the bigger employers, but small and medium sized businesses using bins or carts are more problematic. They often have materials in them that shouldn’t be there,” he says, noting those bins and carts can also be contaminated by members of the public who toss their refuse into them.

Baughen says the regional district’s consultation process is similar to one already completed by the Central Okanagan Regional District, who have implemented a business recycling program.

He says the regional district program will follow the Central Okanagan’s example of a one-year consultation period followed by a one-year period where fines and services are implemented, in addition to providing time for the private sector to develop programs. In the third year the district would take a more punitive approach to loads with recyclables in them.

Once the survey is complete, a list of possible options will be made to the regional board, with implementation next year of any options approved by the board.


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