Kevin Paterson, environmental services manager for the Regional District of East Kootenay, says the Recycle BC Depot is easy to use once you get to sorting. Photo by Dauna Ditson

Relearning recycling and tossing in more

RDEK expanded recycling program success at Windermere landfill

Residents in the Valley are recycling tonnes and doing an exceptional job putting their materials in the right bins since the new Recycle BC Depot opened at the Columbia Valley Landfill in June, said Kevin Paterson, environmental services manager for the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK).

“Certainly the public has really embraced the concept,” he said. “By and large, people are doing really well.”

When the Recycle BC Depot opened, it allowed residents to begin recycling additional materials – like Styrofoam – in exchange for some extra sorting that they can do either at home or once they get to the landfill.

While the yellow-bin system, which has been around for 20 years, doesn’t require sorting, Mr. Paterson said those using the Recycle BC Depot need to split the recyclables they would normally put into a yellow bin into two bins: one for paper products and the other for plastic and metal containers.

The rest of the bins at the depot give residents the opportunity to recycle more than 76 new items that aren’t accepted in the yellow bins. Five new categories of bins exist at the depot: one for coloured Styrofoam, one for white unmarked Styrofoam, one for glass containers, and two for different types of plastic films and assorted extras.

Mr. Paterson said residents can do their sorting in advance or wait until they arrive at the Recycle BC Depot where the bins are marked with lists of accepted materials and pictures.

While the Pioneer was on scene, Paul Neilson from Fairmont came to the depot with a container of plastic films and went from one bin to the next checking for the right place to leave his Twizzler bag and other plastic wraps.

Differentiating between the two types of accepted plastic films is the trickiest thing about the recycling program, Mr. Paterson said, adding that “it’s dead simple” once you get the hang of it.

Basically any plastic film that touches your food – like Mr. Neilson’s Twizzler wrapper – goes in the flexible packaging bin.

The exceptions are bread bags, produce bags and freezer food bags that don’t zip closed. Those materials go in the overwrap bin along with the rest of your plastic films and bags that don’t encase things you’d like to eat.

Mr. Neilson doesn’t mind spending a few minutes checking the signs at the bins as he sorts his plastic wraps.

“It’s great. It’s very handy, and we’re big recyclers,” he said.

Mr. Neilson has been continuing to use the yellow bins and bringing his extra recyclables to the Recycle BC Depot, but Mr. Paterson invites him and everyone else to consider bringing all of their materials to the depot.

While residents pay taxes for the yellow bins, Recycle BC pays RDEK by the tonne of recyclables collected at the depot.

As of November 1st, the Valley had recycled over 47 tonnes at the Recycle BC Depot and earned over $5,000 for it.

Everyone wins by using the Recycle BC Depot, Mr. Paterson said. Besides saving money, residents will be able to recycle many more items and keep waste out of the landfill.

“Everything from gum wrappers to bread tags … there’s not a lot that we can’t recycle,” he said.

His own trash can looks a lot different than before RDEK opened its first Recycle BC Depot.

“We hardly have any garbage anymore,” he said.

RDEK will be opening Recycle BC Depots in Cranbrook and the Elk Valley over the coming months and intends to do more outreach to make sure residents know what they can recycle once all of the depots are up and running.

While there hasn’t been a formal audit of how well residents are doing at putting their recyclables in the right places, Mr. Paterson is pleased with what he’s seen to date.

“We really applaud the work that our residents are doing at being diligent in sorting their product,” he said. “It’s been, I think, really well received. We’ve certainly had lots of positive feedback from our residents.”

Several residents told the Pioneer that they love the new recycling program.

Judy Dow said: “I think it is great. The people out there have been so helpful and friendly too.”

For more information and a complete list of what you can take to the Recycle BC Depot at the Windermere landfill, go to www.rdek.bc.ca/departments/environmentalservices/garbage_recycling/columbia_valley_landfill/ and click on the “Recycling at the Landfill” link.

Anyone with questions or concerns can reach out to info@rdek.bc.ca

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