DOWN TO EARTH: How lucky are we?

We should consider ourselves lucky that we can bring snack wrappers and Styrofoam to recycling

One of the most successful recycling programs in all of North America exists right here in B.C.

We should consider ourselves lucky that we can bring snack wrappers and Styrofoam to the recycling depot. Most parts of Canada do not even recycle coffee cups because of the plastic liner inside them. A few provinces in Canada do not even offer a refund on beverage containers and some do not accept black rigid plastics in their recycling programs.

Often it is brought to our attention that other items ‘should’ be included and I can sense the frustration from the consumer when the answer is… “I’m sorry that item is garbage”. We have to remember how far we have come in the last decade. Not that long ago, here in the Cariboo we could only recycle cardboard and the only place to bring your recyclables was the main transfer station in town. Now we have bins in front of our homes and can divert a variety of materials all over the region. Besides the main recycling depots in our urban centers we now have recycling depots in Horsefly, Nimpo Lake, Mcleese Lake, Tatla Lake, Baker Creek, Wells, and all over the Interlakes region. We have attendants with a wealth of information ready to share the ins and outs of the program. We have some of the best Waste Educators in the province living right here in the Cariboo Chilcotin, they are renowned all over Western Canada for their knowledge and love of trash. All this right here at our fingertips!

READ MORE: Conservation society invites community to Earth Friendly Holiday event

Most of the funding for recycling in our region comes from Recycle BC. Acting like a stewardship for plastic and paper packaging, they pull fees from producers who sell packaging items in our province. That money runs the non-profit organization which assists in managing collected recyclables in over 150 and 1.8 million households in BC.

Garbage. Remember, waste costs money to manage. Whatever we don’t repurpose or recycle all gets hauled to an engineered landfill eventually, the cost of which is covered by your property taxes. Tipping fees at the transfer station have been increasing in the last few years. It costs the district $130/tonne to manage our leftovers, up from the previous $100/tonne. Regulations to run landfills are getting more costly, as is trucking and maintaining the standards to manage waste ‘properly’. It is no surprise we are seeing a slow increase in our tipping fees at the scales.

We should remember we are one of the cheaper districts in the province when it comes to waste disposal. We do not charge for bulky items like mattresses, fridges, freezers and stoves. In other districts these can run from $10-$50 per item. Some districts have a fee-per-bag system where you get charged $2-$5 per bag. In the Cariboo a local tax-paying resident can dump up to 100kg for free! We are pretty lucky.

Tip: When in doubt, find out … call the Recycling Hotline of B.C. 1-800-667-4321 to find out where to recycle anything you have questions about.

Oliver Berger is the chief green officer with the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society.

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