Forsstrom: Buying into recycling habits

The regional district’s waste management program is cracking down and imposing fines on those who don't recycle

One condo’s garbage is another government’s treasure.

After rolling out its recycling program over the past few years, the regional district’s waste management program is cracking down and imposing fines to get their message across—recycle or pay the price.

Last year, the local government   levied $ 67,000 in fines against violators who can’t be bothered to source sort their garbage and recycling before it ends up at the landfill.

Besides households, the other main offenders so far are commercial operations that use dumpsters.

The majority of condos seem to have gotten the message. However, while the public education phase has produced positive results chronic offenders can expect to be fined, or refused service.

Terry Moldenhaur, manager of major accounts for BFI, says there were more offenders at the start of the program but “now the public is better educated.”

He is not aware of any stratas actually being fined at this point.

He says that the private haulers are studying the feasibility of installing cameras on commercial trucks, similar to the cameras installed on residential trucks to provide proof positive to the recycling recalcitrants.

The cost of not complying can be costly.

Many construction sites use a 40-yard bin which costs $650 to off-load at the Glenmore landfill.

If the bin has garbage and recycling material mixed together the hauler is assessed a fine of $1,500 for a total of $2,150 for just one bin. The cost is passed on to the offending company.

Molenhaur says drivers have been taking pictures of the evidence and confronting offenders with the evidence and a warning.

“We won’t even pickup the bin if it continues,” he says. Most stratas have smaller bins. To dump a three-yard bin costs $130 in landfill fees. A $300 fine can be imposed with the total cost $450.

Cynthia Coates, a waste reduction facilitator for the regional district, agrees that condos are learning to comply, but while “a lot are coming around they still need more education.”

For condos, the ongoing education involves conducting a waste audit to ensure residents have properly marked bins and are aware of what type of refuse goes into which bin.

Based on the audit a waste management plan should be implemented so that everyone is clear about what types of waste can be disposed of onsite (either garbage or recyclables) and what type of waste is banned from the landfill and goes to a recycling depot.

The banned list is extensive and includes; small appliances, batteries, cell phones, drywall, etc. that must be delivered to the depots, along with refundable beverage containers.

Stratas have also begun policing their own properties by installing security cameras trained on the dumpsters 24/7 to catch offenders.

Armed with the evidence the next step would be for the owners to amend the bylaws stating that non-compliance with the waste management program could result in a $200 fine.

Eventually, it will be up to the residents to make a choice between changing their behaviour or paying for their bad habits.

If you are a self-managed strata feel free to contact me to discuss this or any other column.