Recycle ambassadors hit the streets

Are you putting the right things in your recycling cart? The Regional District will be back on the streets again this summer with the help of their Recycling Ambassadors, randomly checking what’s under the blue lid and inside curbside recycling carts. This is part of the ongoing cart education and inspection campaign by the Regional District to combat recycling contamination.

Solid Waste Manager Jodie Foster says they’re launching the Recycling Ambassador Summer Student Program. “Our Ambassadors will not only be reaching out to residents through curbside cart checks and education, you’ll also see them at community events throughout the region, delivering the recycling message.”

“We understand that sorting waste and recycling can sometimes be confusing. 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.“

“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,” says 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 8 per cent contamination on average and it needs to be 3 per cent or less. We need to do a better job and that requires continuous education and monitoring.”

Foster says the Recycling Ambassadors will have a quick look at the contents in recycling carts, and if they find items that don’t belong they’ll leave information explaining what went wrong.  In some cases if there is significant contamination, carts won’t be picked up until the offending material is removed.

Here are some of the items Ambassadors will be looking for:

  • Garbage
    • Garden hoses, landscape edging and tarps
    • Paper towels and tissues
    • Non-packaging plastics such as toys, Tupperware type containers, laundry baskets
  • Items recyclable at depots and other locations (but not in the cart)
    • Plastic bags including bagged recyclables
    • Styrofoam
    • Glass
    • Soft plastics such as cling wrap, bubble wrap, chip and snack bags, zipper bags
    • Electronics and small appliances
    • Textiles such as clothes, fabric and pillows
    • Soft cover novels and hard cover books and textbooks
  • Hazardous waste
    • Hazards such as syringes and propane tanks

In 2018 the Regional District inspected over 7,800 recycling carts and sends an average of 2,500 letters each year to residents when the wrong materials are found in the recycling, garbage and yard waste carts – to help encourage future compliance.