Black Press Plastic shopping bags are not acceptable in your recycling.

Recycling spotters out in force in the Central Okanagan

Regional district spotters are looking for inappropriate materials in recycling carts.

Are you putting the right things in your recycling cart?

Central Okanagan Regional District will have folks back on the streets this fall checking to see if you are, as part of its ongoing education and cart inspection campaign.

Peter Rotheisler, manager of environmental services for the regional district, which oversees the recycling collection contract for all member municipalities in the Central Okanagan, says most residents are doing a good job following the rules for what’s acceptable to put in the carts. But he says waste audits show there’s still significant contamination going on in our recycling stream, and that’s a problem.

“Things like garden hoses, garbage, hazardous waste, electronics, scrap metals, textiles, even yard waste—items that have never been accepted in our recycling program are showing up and contaminating the recycling stream,” said Rotheisler.

“If we don’t reduce and eliminate these unacceptable products from our loads, we face financial penalties from our contractor Recycle BC.”

He said the regional system is close to 18 per cent contamination on average. Recycle BC dictates it needs to be three per cent or less.

“So we need to do a better job, and that requires continuous education and monitoring.”

Rotheisler said the inspection teams will look through carts and if they find items that don’t belong, they’ll leave a sticker telling you what went wrong. If you’re doing a good job, they’ll leave you a “good-job” sticker.

In some cases, carts won’t be picked up until the offending material is removed.

Here are some of the items inspectors will be looking for:

• Electronics, small appliances (depot only recyclable)

• Hazards such as syringes, propane tanks

• Garbage such as food waste, paper towels, Kleenex

• Textiles such as clothes, fabric, pillows

• Plastic Bags, Styrofoam, Glass (DEPOT ONLY recyclable)

• Soft plastics such as cling wrap, bubble wrap, chip and snack bags, zipper bags

• Bagged recyclables

• Non-packaging plastics such as toys, Tupperware type containers, laundry baskets

• Garden hoses, landscape edging, tarps

• Soft cover novels and hard cover books and textbooks

In the spring, the regional district mailed out more than 55,000 Be Cart Smart recycling flyers to homes in the Central Okanagan.

Each year, the regional district inspects more than 3,000 recycling carts and send an average of 3,500 letters directly to residents when its inspectors spot the wrong materials in recycling, garbage and yard waste carts.