New recycling program turning a profit

Issues have begun to crop up at some of the region’s smaller landfills with the B.C.-wide recycling program.

Five months into a new B.C.-wide recycling program, issues have begun to crop up at some of the region’s smaller landfills.

Responsibility for recycling was handed over in May to Multi-Material B.C., an industry group represents companies that introduce the most recyclable waste into the marketplace through product packaging, which they’re now required to recycle and collect.

The switch was accomplished in this area by providing incentives to local governments like the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to continue and expand curb-side pickup programs already in place.

And at landfills, additional containers were placed in order to accept new items, like styrofoam, and allow for more thorough sorting of paper products.

“It’s better run in terms of waste reduction,” RDOS solid waste management co-ordinator Cameron Baughen told the board at its meeting last week.

He said the proportion of material set out for curb-side pickup that can actually be recycled has increased from 85 to 95 per cent, and the total amount of material being sent for recycling has also gone up.

Plus, the drop-off system set up at Campbell Mountain Landfill has been “very successful,” and actually generated a nearly $1,800 monthly profit during the summer, since the RDOS gets paid for the material, explained Baughen.

The profit would have been more, but a new shelter was created to cover the soft-sided mega-bags used for some items and a staff member has been on shift 30 hours a week to educate people during sorting.

However, recycling programs at smaller landfills in Oliver, Okanagan Falls and Keremeos cost taxpayers a total of about $6,450 a month to operate during the summer.

Green By Nature, the company contracted by MMBC to pick up and transport recycling from landfills to sorting facilities elsewhere, has stated a preference to use 40-yard roll-off bins for collection.

In most cases, however, that would require a capital outlay for stairs and safety features around the bins, which the RDOS didn’t budget for, so existing front-end bins have been left in place at some sites and the RDOS still pays to transport those loads to a collection point in Penticton.

To help reduce costs, RDOS staff has recommended the Keremeos transfer station reduce its participation in the MMBC program to just plastic bags, glass and styrofoam, which are collected in mega-bags, and go to tender for a private contract to handle everything else, which the RDOS will still pay to collect there in the meantime.

That will allow time for RDOS staff to see what it will cost to rejig the configuration of the busy, cramped site to allow for the full MMBC program.

Staff also recommended the Okanagan Falls landfill, which has limited hours and doesn’t accept household waste, be removed from the MMBC program and its licence given to the Oliver bottle depot so it can become an MMBC drop-off point.

And at the Oliver landfill, RDOS staff recommended investing up to $56,500 to accommodate the 40-yard roll-off bins and proper infrastructure for the mega-bags favoured by MMBC.

The RDOS board is expected to approve most of the recommendations at its Nov. 6 meeting, with the proposed change in Oliver deferred to allow more time for study.