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Curtailing recyclables thrown out in the trash

Ken Muller,  solid waste supervisor at Glenmore Landfill, pulls out items that should have been recycled instead of being tossed in the garbage bound for the landfill. - Sean Connor/Capital News
Ken Muller, solid waste supervisor at Glenmore Landfill, pulls out items that should have been recycled instead of being tossed in the garbage bound for the landfill.
— image credit: Sean Connor/Capital News

Most Central Okanagan residents have adapted to the idea of recycling.

They separate their garbage at home, keep the recyclable material from being tossed into local landfills under the public education guidance of the regional waste reduction office.

But something happens when those same people go to work. The recyclable mentality seems to disappear.

It’s gotten so bad that the City of Kelowna and regional waste reduction office feel the need to take action.

Peter Rotheisler, waste reduction manager for the regional waste reduction office, said commercial waste disposal companies will face a $150 per metric tonne surcharge for dumping banned material at the Glenmore Landfill.

“That fine will be assessed to the commercial garbage hauler, and it will be up to them to recover that cost from the business violating the recycling standards,” Rotheisler said.

A display was set up for the local media on Thursday to see first-hand what sort of recyclable material is being illegally trashed.

Everything from food scraps and kitchen appliances to cardboard —which was banned from landfills almost 15 years ago—and beverage containers was on display where it otherwise shouldn’t be seen.

“A comprehensive study conducted at the Glenmore landfill in 2010 showed that about 50 per cent of the garbage originated from local businesses and multi-family developments could have been diverted into an existing recycling program,” Rotheisler said.

As a comparison, the study showed 30 per cent of residential home garbage could have been recycled.

“As it stands now, huge amounts of materials which can be easily diverted are still filling up our landfill, materials such as plastic film, metal, cardboard and paper products. There is no reason for these items to be thrown in the garbage when a variety of other disposal options are available.”

The cost factor for the city, Rotheisler said, is by not adhering to the recycling rules, the life of the Glenmore landfill will shorten.

“We can extend the life of the landfill another 10 or 15 years by following our recycling practices,” he said.

“And that is a significant cost savings for the city the longer the landfill’s life can be extended.

“Our message is be informed, know your waste, make a plan.” (See the sidebar above for a list of the recyclable materials. As well, small appliances will be banned in April of this year, and clean wood will be banned in the future.)

Local waste haulers have been informing their customers of ensuing surcharges to be applied to loads containing banned items, and are in the process of helping their customers make the required changes to the way they manage their waste.

The Regional Waste Reduction office is also spearheading a comprehensive education campaign about the program and will be assisting local businesses improve their waste practices. To learn more about the Commercial Diversion Program targeting mandatory recyclables, contact regionaldistrict.com/recycle or call 250-469-6250.

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