If your recycling is not picked up

Just got the following note from Cam at the RDOS about recycling.  Garbage/recycling is one of the most expensive (and beneficial!) things we do at the RDOS. To minimize the costs for everyone, we ask you to do a little bit of work on your end, while you still have the item of waste in your hand.

From Cam:

Due to a resident’s concerns I went along West Bench Drive today. I checked over 20 recycle bags that were left. They were all left for contaminates in the recycling, which I confirmed. Materials that we cannot accept that are in the bags left today:

  • Food waste, paper burger wrap and soiled napkin paper. All of our materials are touched by hand. Soiled materials can make people sick. They should not be placed in recycling.
  • Soft plastics (see comment below for a definition). A common confusion is we do not take shopping bags but take all other bags made of plastic. That is not true. We don’t collect any soft plastics. There are depots for some soft plastics but not all. People should remove soft plastics from their recycling collection.
  • Durable plastics. This includes plastic coat hangers, toys and other plastic items that are not packaging.
  • Batteries. These are not collected but can be brought to Canadian Tire, RONA, London Drugs or the RDOS for recycling.
  • Foam plastics such as Styrofoam or foam bedding.
  • Glass which we banned many years ago.

Several residents are upset. They are welcome to contact me to discuss.  Our drivers are doing their job.

Cameron Baughen, RDOS Solid Waste Management Coordinator
101 Martin Street, Penticton BC
Ph 250-490-4203  TF 1-877-610-3737
cbaughen@rdos.bc.ca   www.rdos.bc.ca



I asked Cam for a better definition of "soft plastics". His reply follows:

Soft plastics is anything that you can crush in your hand. These soft materials get lodged in paper and machinery.
·         Chip and cereal bags (garbage)
·         Overwrap for dry goods, plastic freezer bags and shopping bags (take to depot)
·         Wrappers; including chocolate bars and freezies (garbage)
·         Shrink wrap; including wrap around cheese, meat or fish (garbage)
·         Bubble wrap (garbage)
·         Tarps, pool floaties, kiddie pools (garbage)
·         Zip lock bags (Walmart has a take back program)
People believe it is just grocery bags that have been banned. It is all bags or wrap made of plastic.

There is a thread on the West Bench Facebook group asking why the RDOS does not recycle everything.

The short answer: economics.

Obviously, the RDOS  does not recycle.  Instead, it relies on private sector partners to collect, sort, recycle and market waste from RDOS residents. The role of the RDOS is to collect taxes and fees from residents to subsidize the process because, as you are hopefully aware, recycling is a losing business proposition.  It costs way more to collect/sort/recycle/sell than the recycled material is worth.  And the market for recycled material fluctuates over time. So we constantly have to reassess what makes sense to recycle and what does not.

An example of this is glass: very expensive to clean and recycle but effectively worthless as a recycled product.  For this reason, we no longer recycle glass.  This is a pure business decision with virtually no meaningful environmental downside.  Plastic film (shopping bags, etc.) are another problem.  Very costly to deal with but worth almost nothing (so little plastic, after all).  Unlike glass, however, we recycle plastic film because people demand it.  We could re-bury the plastic bags deep in the ground--which is where they came from--but the bags have a nasty habit of escaping this fate and blowing around the landfill.  Same with styrofoam. 

But mixing plastic film with other plastics creates problems for our recycling contractors, as noted above. And contractors with problems come back and ask for more money. That is why we ask you to sort it yourself and be sure not to mix different recycling streams.

Some ask: "It is all too confusing. Why don't recycling employees sort through our trash for us?"  Well, it is pretty clear that we have to pay those people using your tax dollars and garbage fees.  My guess is most people would rather memorize a few rules and deal with the waste while it is in their hand.  But I could be wrong.  Do we need a more concierge-type recycling arrangement in Area F?

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