Gord Turner: Obstacles stand in the way of recycling everything

Castlegar columnists looks at recycling challenges.

I watched the Waste Management truck drive through our neighbourhood picking up paper and plastic recyclables from our blue boxes. I noticed one of the signs on the container part of the truck simply stated, “Why not recycle everything?”

And I thought, “Yes, that should be the goal.” Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happening. We now have a decent brochure which outlines what we can recycle at the curb, and several items are not on that list.

I’m sure that a lot of people (including me) are happy to have a guide to what can be recycled and when. The City of Castlegar and Waste Management finally got the message — that is, we have to know in advance what is allowed in each box, and so they created a useable guide. Now if we place the wrong items in the blue boxes, it’s fair that we get an “Oops” notice.

However, as one of my friends indicated when we were discussing the positives and negatives of recycling here in Castlegar, we should be able to recycle everything. If it’s an inconvenience (such as plastic bags) to Waste Management, they should come up with a solution to handle it. If Waste Management loses a bit of time or a bit of income because of having to deal with inconvenient waste items, so be it! They should have to figure out a way to deal with it.

The strange thing is that homeowners can deliver plastic bags to the green bins at the Ootischenia landfill, and that is completely acceptable. Why are plastic bags in the curb blue boxes not acceptable, and yet plastic bags at the dump recycling facility are acceptable? Surely, Waste Management deals with both.

At any rate, if homeowners are unwilling to drive to the Ootischenia landfill recycling centre, then their plastic bags end up in their garbage bags. And we all know how long it takes for nature’s processes to break down even soft plastic.

One item that should be included in Castlegar’s recycling contract with Waste Management is the disposal of glass. Early on, glass was being picked up monthly, but that feature was dropped a couple of years ago. If the goal is to “recycle everything,” then Waste Management needs to include glass. Many larger communities, for example, have discovered that recycled glass has quite a number of uses. In Castlegar, is glass simply another “inconvenient” item that won’t be picked up at the curb?

Indeed, it would seem so because homeowners can drop sealer jars, wine bottles, and foreign beer bottles in the special green bins for glass at the Ootischenia recycling depot. All they have to do is waste gasoline to drive their glass to the facility.

The worst culprit for non-recyclability is Styrofoam. Styrofoam is not recyclable at the curb, and it is not recyclable in the green bins at the Ootischenia facility. It is a contaminant that no one wants, and no one seems to know what to do about it. I hope Waste Management is working on a solution to this problem as right now most homeowners’ Styrofoam ends up in garbage bags.

Perhaps the problem is at the manufacturing and product-wrapping level. Everyone knows that Styrofoam will protect fridges and microwaves and computers from getting scraped or damaged. Every butcher knows that Styrofoam is the best underlay for packaging meats. All sorts of products are shipped or packaged using Styrofoam. It seems to be a feature of modern living, but the use of this material at the production-end has to stop.

Clearly, Waste Management and our city council have to do something about Styrofoam. In the meantime, we as the general public need to figure out how to pressure those using Styrofoam packaging to stop doing so. Maybe thousands of letters to the Canadian environment minister would get this lobbying started.

Just Posted

Storm prompts travel warning for Boundary, West Kootenay

Up to 25 cm expected on high mountain passes

Cops seize load of pot near Salmo

Traffic stop nets hundreds of pounds of cannabis

Home fuel tank fails, spilling oil near Nakusp

Officials say 700 litres may have escaped in the spill

RED Mountain resort delays opening day

Lack of snow puts damper on start of season

Body found in car at bottom of lake near Needles ferry

Police say at this time no foul play is suspected

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Almost 14,000 Canadians killed by opioids since 2016: new national study

17,000 people have been hospitalized for opioid-related poisoning

Most Read