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City of Kamloops mulling cardboard ban at landfills

Banning the recyclable material at landfills effectively puts the onus back on businesses to find an alternative way to dispose of the material

Commercial cardboard is ending up in landfills and the City of Kamloops is looking at banning the material in an effort to divert the recyclable product.

“We’re still seeing some businesses, some loads coming to our landfills from some of the other private haulers in town, with a large percentage of all their waste is cardboard,” city environmental services manager Glen Farrow told KTW. “In those particular cases, why can’t that be separated? Why can’t that be diverted?”

The city has for years been discussing industrial, commercial and institutional recycling. Though residential cardboard is collected curbside citywide, industrial, commercial and institutional recycling is only available on a piecemeal basis in Kamloops.

The city picks up cardboard from some organizations and delivers it to Emterra, a private waste-processing facility in Valleyview and the only one of its kind in Kamloops. Many organizations pay to have their cardboard hauled privately. Challenges, however, continue in what to do with the end product, preventing the city from expanding the program.

Farrow said other communities have banned dumping cardboard at landfills. The city is mulling the ban as part of a region-wide initiative, alongside the Thompson-Nicola Regional District. Banning cardboard at landfills effectively puts the onus back on businesses to find an alternative way to dispose of the material.

“It’s the lowest-hanging fruit,” Farrow said. “We’ve been talking about commercial recycling for years and, based on the global markets, soft plastics, mixed paper — all those are challenging in finding an end market. The product that has the greatest value and the ability to be pulled out more easily from your product mix is cardboard.”

Issues at times have arisen with Emterra, however. Farrow said contamination of cardboard has led to some loads being turned away.

Asked what businesses will do with their cardboard if it cannot be accepted at landfills or by Emterra, Farrow replied: “That’s the ultimate question. Would another facility set up shop in town to compete against Emterra to give people other different options?”

He noted other communities, such as Kelowna and some in the Lower Mainland, have multiple private-processing facilities and likened the situation in Kamloops to a chicken and egg scenario.

Farrow could not quantify how much cardboard is disposed of via city landfills. He noted the city charges for disposal, but said the issue is space cardboard takes up at landfills and the fact it is a product that can be diverted and recycled.

Residents, meanwhile, continue to await organic curbside collection. The most recent update estimates it may not become a reality for another two years, as the city looks at possibly linking it to long-term biosolids management.