Time to recycle old paint cans

In 1964 when Boxcar Willie wrote a truckers’ song with the refrain, “Give me 40 acres and I’ll turn this rig around”, he could have written it with me in mind except he was singing about an 18-wheeler. I drive a small pickup, but just the thought of parking in an unusual place where space may be cramped can be enough to stall me completing an errand for months.

Twice a year to make space in my house I must haul out my stockpile of styrofoam food trays and plastic shopping bags, neither of which are accepted in the bi-weekly street pickup. This fall I concluded the time had come to clear my basement of the many cans of leftover paint saved over the years.

Besides my reluctance to visit a new depot, organizing the load took time, checking brochures and websites and phoning the regional district to find out exactly which products go to which depot, hours of depot operation, and other details.

Gradually I hauled 29 cans up to the front door, a couple of cans each time I went downstairs to add wood to the stove, until I had a sizeable pyramid waiting to be loaded. Once loaded, I had to follow through.

I was relieved when I arrived at Lakelse Machine at 3098 Kofoed Drive to drop the cans off. Lakelse Machine’s parking lot is spacious enough to park half a dozen 18-wheelers at one time, I’ll bet.

The cans of leftover paint are collected in orderly stacks in a canvas bin that sits outside the building on the ground. Thanks to the acres of parking, I was able to circle around and pull in close, no backing up, something I always worry about should I get nervous and hit the gas instead of the brake.

Unloading with a staffer’s help took mere seconds.

There was no charge, something I had been expecting before I phoned to ask. All recycling charges are paid for by the deposit we pay when we buy these products.

The depot accepts household paints, flammable liquids, pesticides and gasoline. They must be in original containers with the labels intact, tightly sealed, not leaking.

I was told residents come in and help themselves to the half-used cans of paint, a recycling move I had not imagined.

But a long list of products are not accepted including glues, adhesives, tars, greases, insect repellants, caulking compounds, unidentified, unknown, unlabelled or leaking containers. These products cannot be accepted because they cannot be passed on to Product Care, a company that goes the next step to safely destroying the products collected at the depot.

In 2015 the city of Terrace and the Regional District cooperated to organize a weekend at the old Co-op lands when anyone in the area could dump off hazardous goods. A team of hazardous waste specialists was brought in to oversee the contributions and transport them to a hazardous waste disposal site in the Lower Mainland.

The weekend proved to be well supported by residents keen to dispose of their hazardous leftovers responsibly rather than dumping them off along some roadside ditch on crown land. However the sizeable cost of having the special team in attendance has so far deterred a repeat weekend.

The brochure given to me by Lakelse Machine urges buying only the amount you need, and using what you buy. Logical advice. But if you have paint leftovers to recycle, this depot is easy to access.

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