City of Kamloops staffers have thus far opened the lid on various residential recycling bins to see what is inside.
When staff see items that should not be in the bins — for example, food, glass or plastic bags — tags are left in the bin, letting the resident know what can and cannot be tossed in the receptacle for collection day.
With contamination rates needed to be at or below three per cent, based on the city’s agreement with Recycle BC, staff are ramping up efforts to deliver cleaner recycling to market.
In 2020, staff will be placing found forbidden items in clear plastic bags and leaving the bags hanging on the bins.
According to the city, doing so better helps ensure residents understands which items are accepted and which are not, using visual references as opposed to text-heavy tags.
The method was adapted from the City of Surrey’s model as a best practice and is recommended and endorsed by Recycle BC.
Each inspection will be electronically tracked and recorded and staff will leave recycling guides and reusable recycling bags to help educate residents about what is accepted in the program.
If a cart is found with a large amount of unaccepted material, it is not collected and the resident must remove the contamination prior to next collection.
Warnings will be followed by fines of $100.
The City is also checking multi-family bins and carts. Because of the communal nature of these containers, staff are working with property and building mangers to help educate tenants and make changes to collection to help reduce contamination.
Glen Farrow, the city’s streets and environmental services manager, said the effort appears to be making a difference, noting the contamination rate for multi-family bins and carts dropped from 26 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 to 11 in the third quarter the year.
“A lot of the contamination we are seeing are materials that are recyclable at depots only,” said Graham Lamont, the city’s sanitation and sign shop supervisor.
“Curbside and multi-family recycling bins and carts are for plastic and metal containers, cartons, paper and cardboard only. Things like glass, soft plastics — like plastic bags — foam packaging, electronics, scrap metal and clothing must be recycled elsewhere, like a depot.”
In Kamloops, items that are recyclable but do not fall within the home collection program may be taken to a Recycle BC depot or to other recycling collectors.
The city offers the free Waste Wise app, which allows residents to search for a specific item and to learn if and where it can be taken for recycling. Information about what is accepted in the city’s recycling program and what is accepted at recycling depots is also available online at Kamloops.ca/Recycling.