The City of Revelstoke began curbside recycling pickup on Jan. 3. Although curbside recycling received majority support during community consultations, some of the details of the program have already been the subject of head-scratching and criticism. Why no glass recycling? Why disposable plastic bags and not reusable plastic bins? Revelstoke City Councillor Phil Welock is the city council representative on the Waste Collection Strategy Committee. We sent him a list of most-asked questions. We received a reply from the City of Revelstoke engineering department. Here they are.
Q: Why isn’t curbside glass recycling being offered? I’ve heard ‘contamination’ and ‘safety’ as the reasons. Can you explain what that means?
Recyclables from the curbside program and the contents of the green bins go to different processing plants. The curbside recycling materials are shipped to and sorted at Cascades Recovery in Kelowna. This processing plant is a semi-automatic facility which means that there are human hands sorting the materials. It is a requirement for there to be no glass in the items being sorted to eliminate risk to the workers sorting. Items from the green bins located at Revelstoke Bottlers are shipped to Emterra in Surrey. This processing plant is a fully automated system which requires no workers manually sorting items, therefore eliminating risk of injury to workers from broken glass items. In addition, recyclables which have been contaminated with broken glass are worth much less than those that have not been exposed to glass.
Q: Are there plans for curbside glass recycling in the future? If so, when?
If the processor of the curbside recycling materials changes the items that they accept for processing, then yes, what we are able to put at the curb will change accordingly.
Q: Why are we using plastic bags and not reusable bins?
The processing facility for our curbside recycling prefers clear bags in order to easily identify if the bag contains any contaminants. As an example, a B.C. municipality changed from a bag system to bin system and they saw the percentage of contaminants in the recycling rise from 3% to more than 10%. The bags used to put recyclables in are also recycled at the processing facility.
Q: Can I use any clear plastic bag to recycle? Is it a ‘special’ bag or just a clear one?
The plastic bag may be clear or clear blue. Contents must be visible.
Q: Residents are no longer allowed to put recycling in the garbage. Were they before?
Yes, recyclables were allowed to be put into the garbage.
Q: What will happen if recycling is found in garbage bags? Are there fines? A sticker of shame?
If visible amounts of recyclable items are put into the solid waste garbage cans, there likely will be a sticker of shame left. If it continues, a letter may be sent.
Q: Is stepped up enforcement planned for those who put recycling in their garbage? Will workers be looking in the bags?
No, workers will not be looking through the solid waste bags
Q: Why no Styrofoam recycling?
What we are able to put into our recycling is dictated by the service and the processing plant that it is sent to. Currently Styrofoam is not an item that is recyclable.
Q: Are there plans to extend the system to apartments and neighbourhoods not included in this round?
At the present time, the curbside recycling is only available to residents in single family residential homes. There are currently no plans to extend this.
Q: What is the annual per-residence cost of the recycling program?
The annual cost of the curbside recycling program which offers unlimited numbers of bags of recyclables picked up on a biweekly basis is $2.97/user/month. This is a total cost of $35.64 per user/year.
Q: Does the system have any targets for improvement in recycling rates? Can this target be stated in a percentage? Or by weight or volume?
No, there are no targets of this sort. The fee structure is set during the tender process
Q: Are expansions or adjustments to the system scheduled for the future?
Currently there are no plans for expansions or adjustments scheduled.