THE AMOUNT of recyclable material being picked up by city workers has increased since it introduced its automated container system but so has the amount of non-recyclable material being mixed in.
“The contamination levels went way up since the automated system. A lot more glass and garbage,” says Kasey Lewis of Do Your Part, the private recycling company hired to sort recyclable material prior to it being shipped south.
Some of that may be due to increased volume, as much as three to five tons more for each city recycling pick up cycle.
The new containers, blue for recycling and gray for garbage, were introduced at the beginning of the year along with a new truck. It has a mechanical arm that picks up, empties and returns the containers to their resting place on the ground.
Previously residents left see-through blue plastic bags of recyclables for city workers to manually hoist into a garbage truck.
If they spotted anything which could not be recycled, they’d place an informational sticker on the bag and leave it behind.
With the new system, the city worker never leaves the cab, relying on a camera in the back to relay images to a monitor in the front of what’s being dumped when the containers are emptied. If they see anything which cannot be recycled or, for instance, hear the sound of glass being emptied, they then leave the truck and put a sticker on the offending container.
To date the city has been exceeding the amount of non-recyclable material allowed within the bales of material which can be recycled.
Continuing to do that could result in fines being levied of $2,500 per load up to a maximum of $60,000 per year by the agency now running most recycling in B.C., Multi-Material BC (MMBC).
But the agency has “no immediate plans to apply these fines as long as the city is actively working to reduce contamination,” says Alison Bogan, its communications director.
MMBC began operations in May 2014 and is financed through money provided by packaging producers. Lewis said city residents should remember that its recycling program does not accept electronics nor does it accept glass.
Glass needs to be taken by residents to the Do Your Part depot in Thornhill while electronics can be taken to the Terrace Return-It Centre.
Other problem items being tossed in the recycling containers include batteries, scrap metals (like baking sheets), Styrofoam and clothing. The city has warned residents of the financial penalties of throwing non-recyclables into blue containers.
“Ultimately, it is our residents who pay when there is contamination so we strongly encourage everyone to be aware of what is accepted at the curbside, for collection,” said a statement from the city.