LETTER – Comox Valley Regional District management responds to complaints about possible recycle depot closures

Dear editor,

Re: LETTER – District should encourage recycling, not make it more difficult

The recommendation to close four unstaffed CSWM depots has not been taken lightly. In 2018, the six CSWM depots collected approximately 1,800 tonnes of material, of which 18 per cent was contaminated with garbage. This high level of contamination not only means that a large portion of otherwise recyclable materials can no longer be recycled and ends up in the landfill, but it also creates a safety issue for people who use the site and the staff that have to manage the contaminated waste. The changing markets for recycling have also impacted the importance of clean product, and these depots cannot continue to be operated without significant changes and costs.

A major consideration in this closure recommendation is that there are excellent additional options available for effective recycling in our communities. The four unstaffed depots that we are proposing be phased out are all within close proximity to Recycle BC Return-It depots, or within city limits where weekly curbside collection is offered. For example, the unstaffed depot at Courtenay Country Market is a seven-minute drive to a full service Return-It Depot at 493 Puntledge Road in Courtenay.

While the unstaffed CSWM depots do not accept glass, plastic bags, outer wrap or foam packaging, these items can all be sorted at the Return-It Depots throughout the region, as well as at the Campbell River and Comox Valley waste management centres. Not only do these locations accept more streams of recyclable materials as part of the Recycle BC program, normal practice is for monitoring to occur during the recycling process. Staff are present to observe and correct sorting errors, and educate the public. By using these programs, residents ensure that their material is actually recycled and will therefore be diverting a larger volume of material than if continuing to use the CSWM depots.

We will be bringing a report forward to the CSWM board in January with additional information related to the possible closure of the unstaffed depots, including Courtenay Country Market, before making a decision on this matter. This report will address alternative recycling options, our plan to inform and support residents through this transition away from unstaffed depots, and the possible impact on the other staffed depots that will now handle increased volumes. We are listening and will bring forward comments and concerns from the public.

Marc Rutten, P. Eng.

General manager of Engineering Services Branch,

Comox Valley Regional District

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