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Recycling contamination in blue bins ‘a big problem,’ says Central Okanagan regional district

May 18, 2019

Random checks of what’s being put inside recycling carts will soon be taking place, the Regional District of the Central Okanagan announced this week.

Random checks of what’s being put inside recycling carts will soon be taking place, the Regional District of the Central Okanagan announced this week.

The regional district said it will be sending out “recycling ambassadors” from its summer student program to ensure residents are placing the right things in those blue-topped recycling carts. The random checks, the regional district added, are part of an ongoing cart education and inspection campaign to combat recycling contamination.

“We understand that sorting waste and recycling can sometimes be confusing,” said solid waste manager Jodie Foster.

“Most residents are doing a pretty good job including only what’s acceptable to put in the carts. But recycling audits show there are still a significant number of unacceptable items going into our recycling stream, and that’s a big problem.”

Foster said staff will have a quick look at the contents in recycling carts. If they find items that don’t belong, they’ll leave information explaining what is and isn’t allowed. Foster noted that if there is significant contamination, the cart won’t be picked up until the offending material is removed.

“Things like plastic bags, garbage, books, food waste, garden hoses, plastic shovels, hazardous waste, electronics, scrap metals, textiles, even yard waste—items that have never been accepted in our curbside recycling program are still showing up and contaminating the recycling stream,” said Foster.

“If we don’t significantly reduce and eliminate these unacceptable products from our recycling loads, we face financial penalties from Recycle BC. We’re close to eight per cent contamination on average and it needs to be three per cent or less. We need to do a better job and that requires continuous education and monitoring.”

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