There will be only a handful of recycling depots left in the Comox Valley when the multi-material facility outside Home Depot closes at the end of January.
The well-used facility at the Ryan/Lerwick intersection in Courtenay has collected about 25 per cent of items dropped off at regional depots, says Tom Boatman, the district’s manager of solid waste services.
“We hate to lose that one,” he said. “We’re directing everybody over to our other two nearby depots. One of them is behind Canex (at CFB Comox). We just opened that one up. It’s lighted, it has a fence and it’s paved right up to the entrance.”
The other is at the Courtenay Country Market at 5352 North Island Hwy.
Remaining self-regulated depots are at the Comox Valley Waste Management Centre in Cumberland, BFI Canada at 4624 Cumberland Rd., and the Old Oyster River Fire Hall in Black Creek.
Since the depots have been established, Boatman says most homeowners in Courtenay and Comox can recycle at curbside using curbside bins.
“It’s kind of redundant the way people seem to love to go there (depots) and take their cardboard. I admit, I do, too,” Boatman said.
“The old days of having a couple of bins at the far corner of your supermarket? They’re coming to an end,” said Comox Valley Regional District chair Edwin Grieve, who also chairs the Comox Strathcona Waste Management board. “Only by the grace of a few retailers do we still have them. We have to look at a different model.”
Under a provincial stewardship program, Boatman said government is taking some of the recycling responsibility away from consumers and into the hands of manufacturers. The non-profit Multi-Material British Columbia (MMBC) has introduced a program where local governments can qualify for rebates. As it stands, the district pays for bins, transportation, pickup, maintenance and sorting.
“All that’s been taken over by MMBC,” Boatman said. “Essentially they’re picking up the bins, giving replacement bins and then sending you some cash on the materials they recover. It’s a tremendous saving for us.”
MMBC has a few conditions: depots need to be fenced, lit, maintained and manned at certain parts of the day.
There will be about a dozen MMBC depots, mostly located on public land throughout the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts, Boatman said. In addition to usual recycling materials, the depots will accept polyethylene film such as plastic bags, Styrofoam and glass.
“This is waste glass,” Boatman said. “With this new program we can safely say, ‘Yes, bring your glass that you cannot take to the bottle depots.’ It will be recycled and reused through this program.”
He anticipates the expanded program — which MMBC plans to initiate in May — will save a few hundred thousand dollars a year in operating costs.