City of Nanaimo residents keep attempting to recycle items that aren’t meant to go in blue bins.
Recycle B.C. has asked the city to come up with a remediation plan after a series of audits show that the contamination rate is above the target rate and has increased in the past two years.
“This is a challenge, I think, for almost all municipalities,” said Taaj Daliran, the city’s manager of sanitation and recycling. “I am not aware of any municipality meeting those targets.”
In correspondence to the city, Recycle B.C. noted “the high level of not-accepted materials found in the curbside collection program,” currently averaging more than eight per cent of materials collected, “posing operation concerns for Recycle B.C. and challenging program requirements.”
Recyclables with food residue, books, fabric, glass and plastic film were some of the contaminants noted in Recycle B.C.’s report on its 77 audits conducted between 2018-2020.
Asked about food residue, Daliran said residents should weigh the environmental impacts and should rinse out a recyclable container but shouldn’t run it through a dishwasher, for example.
Councillors Ian Thorpe and Ben Geselbracht suggested some of the contamination is actually a result of good intentions on the part of homeowners.
“There’s a lot of wish-cycling that is going on,” said Geselbracht. “In my experience, there is a lot of guilt when a product goes into the garbage bin and people are trying to avoid that.”
City staff will develop a contamination remediation plan by Aug. 27, and a staff report noted that the plan will include education, monitoring, training, enforcement and tracking. Daliran said if sanitation workers come across three contamination incidents at the same address, they will begin to more closely monitor the property’s waste stream.