Artists renderings of what a new Nanaimo Recycling Exchange might look like. (NEWS BULLETIN file)

Editorial: Recycle with right intent

The future of the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange has become a situation that stands to impact residents

We don’t know yet exactly where our recyclables are going to end up, and that’s creating a problem.

Uncertainty surrounding the future of the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange has quickly become a situation that stands to impact residents in this city and across the region. We don’t know if a new depot is coming or how it will be built, but we do believe that decision-making has to go far beyond just a strong business case.

The NRE believes it needs a new facility, but the non-profit can’t manage construction costs and needs public money to be able to maintain and expand the service offerings it provides. The Kenworth Road exchange has indicated it will close in March if it doesn’t receive those assurances.

A lot of people in the city, both residents and politicians, are sold on the merits of the NRE and what it provides. The depot has been a crucial component of Nanaimo’s zero-waste aspirations by accepting a range of items. As a non-profit, it isn’t out to make a buck, and does whatever it takes to keep materials out of landfills, including paying for items to be recycled elsewhere if need be. City manager of sanitation, recycling and public works administration Charlotte Davis told city council this week she studies materials reports and is convinced of the NRE’s devotion to zero waste.

Some of the decision-making regarding the NRE could certainly have come sooner, but beyond that, the city’s approach has been appropriate. The municipality has to be prudent with costs and it has to look at other funding sources and those questions are being asked and answered.

At the same time, this is a service that we need to invest in if it matters to us, and it should. Zero waste is a worthy goal and a lot of us can do more individually to work toward that ideal. In the meantime, the NRE is taking a lot of the initiative to help make it simpler for us. It’s easy to see how non-profits and for-profits might have different approaches on the kind of recycling that isn’t always cost-effective.

When it comes to recycling, we have to make sure a solution comes with not only the right price, but also with the right intentions.

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