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Waste audits in Ladysmith find too many plastic bags in recycle bins

Checkout bags, potato chip bags, granola bar wrappers, unrinsed containers cause contamination

The town has rummaged through recycling bins twice this summer and is finding that too many residents are trying to recycle plastic bags.

The Town of Ladysmith noted in a press release Aug. 17 that its two informal curbside audits this summer found that soft plastics contributed to the majority of contamination in the recycling stream.

Recycling contamination includes packaging such as potato chip bags and granola bar wrappers as well as checkout bags.

“The overall efficiency of the recycling system is significantly disrupted when these items are present,” noted the release. “ Even a truckload that includes 15-20 per cent contamination can result in all of the materials being transported to the landfill, rather than being recycled.”

The town said the recycling audits were conducted in order to help the municipality gain a better understanding of which items are causing contamination locally. The town visited 70 addresses on five collection routes.

Soft plastics represented 58-69 per cent of the contamination, the town said, followed by improperly rinsed containers, which represented 11-14 per cent of contamination. Food wrappers and soiled paper towels were also problematic.

The town notes that soft plastics are accepted at the Peerless Road Recycling Centre free of charge and the Junction Bottle Depot on Oyster Bay Drive accepts chip bags, snack bar wrappers or crinkly cellophane wrap.

“Please remember you can ensure your container recycling ends up in the right place by rinsing it first to remove food waste,” the press release said. “Organics left on containers can spread to other items in your bin or the collection truck increasing the overall rate of contamination.”

The audits took place during the weeks of June 30-July 7 and July 29-Aug. 5 and were completed by the town’s sustainability ambassadors.

For more information on garbage, recycling and organics collection in the Town of Ladysmith, visit

READ ALSO: Recycle B.C. asking Nanaimo to cut down on contamination in blue bins

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