LETTER: Comox mayor responds to disgruntled recycler

Dear editor,

Re. Unhappy with Comox recycling rules (Sherri Bohmer letter, April 17,).

I hope that this response can clarify for both Ms. Bohmer and the residents of Comox why plastic bags are not permitted in the curbside recycling and organics collection programs.

In 2007, the Town of Comox switched from a “blue bag” to a “blue box” recycling program. Residents were advised that they could also use other clearly labeled refuse containers for placing their recyclables at the curbside. The main reasons for the shift were to allow for easier processing (as bags would no longer need to be manually removed) and to increase participation. As a result of the change, there was an increase of more than 50 per cent in recyclables collected between July 2007 and July 2008.

As global importers of recyclable material tighten their allowable contamination amounts, it is even more important now to use alternatives to plastic bags when placing recyclables at the curb.

If residents are concerned about the wind scattering material in open containers, or about the rain drenching and ruining the material, then please cover with a piece of plywood (or other material) weighted down with a rock or brick. On particularly stormy days, residents could even save their recyclables for the following collection, as unlimited amounts are permitted each collection week.

The reasons for not allowing plastic (even “compostable” plastic) bags to be used with the curbside organics program are different. It is next to impossible to decipher between a “compostable” and a “biodegradable” bag, making manual removal extremely labour intensive. If plastic bags were permitted, and subsequently missed during the removal process, the result is not only an undesirable end product, with bits of plastic, but potentially gums up the sorting and mixing machines.

As an alternative to using plastic bags to line your food waste kitchen containers, try using newspaper, paper towel or purchased paper food waste liners.

Another option is to layer or ‘sandwich’ your food waste in between your yard waste in the same curbside container, which could eliminate the need for a liner altogether.

Mayor Paul Ives


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