Poor Recycling Habits are Costing Cities in the Central Okanagan

Recycling is an essential practice that helps to preserve our environment and conserve natural resources. However, poor recycling habits by some residents in the Central Okanagan region are resulting in costly fines imposed on some cities within the area. Recycle BC manages curbside recycling pickup across the region and is responsible for ensuring that contamination within curbside recycling carts is kept below allowable levels. Unfortunately, regular waste audits conducted by Recycle BC have shown that many residents are not adhering to recycling guidelines.

Contamination occurs when materials that are not accepted under Recycle BC guidelines end up in curbside recycling carts. The Regional District of Central Okanagan has set a three percent allowable contamination level for all recycling materials. However, audits have shown that an average of eight percent of material found in curbside recycling carts contains unacceptable items. The district provides education on proper recycling practices to offenders, and if there is a lot of unacceptable material found in a cart, they will refuse to collect it. In the last quarter of 2022, penalties totaling $55,000 were applied to two cities within the region – City of Kelowna and City of West Kelowna – due to high levels of contamination.

While most residents on the curbside program follow guidelines, unacceptable items such as books, scrap metal, plastic toys, plastic bags, and glass still end up in recycling carts. Last year alone hundreds of carts were left at the curb due to excessive contamination with nearly 10,000 carts having contamination requiring education material for residents.

Travis Kendel, RDCO Engineering Services Manager notes that “garbage doesn’t belong in your recycling cart,” and despite their best efforts to educate people about proper disposal practices; contamination still gets through resulting in significant costs for cities within the area. To tackle this issue head-on, Kendel says that RDCO will be getting more aggressive with violators this year by leaving more carts behind and pursuing more fines for violators. Common contaminants include household garbage, scrap metal, durable plastics (such as laundry baskets and toys), books, construction material textiles (such as clothes and bedding), hazardous waste (such as electronics and propane tanks), depot-only material (such as plastic bags and Styrofoam), glass and other flexible plastic packaging.

It’s essential for individuals living within Central Okanagan region to understand what types of materials can be recycled properly. To learn more about what can be recycled in your curbside cart or at a depot location visit rdco.com/recycle or call the Regional Waste Reduction Office at 250-469-6250 or download the free Recycle Coach App.

In conclusion, poor recycling habits have significant consequences for our environment and those living within our communities. It’s up to each one of us to do our part by following proper disposal practices so we can build a better future together.

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