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City of Richmond seeks to improve recycling quality

bottle recycling

After receiving a less than ideal score from Recycle BC in the summer in regards to the quality of its recyclable materials collected, the City of Richmond has started to randomly audit its residential Blue Box and Blue Cart programs beginning earlier this month.

The low rating is attributed to a high level of contamination occurring defined by non-recyclables or disparate items like paper, plastic and glass — which are supposed to be separated — being mixed together, as well as when the above are not sufficiently cleaned prior to being set out. If properly sorted and largely residue-free, they are eligible to be sold to processors that turn the materials into new products. This in turn can generate revenue to keep utility fees down for residents.

“The key to recycling is that the better the quality, the higher the value for these materials and the easier they are to sell. It’s more difficult to find buyers to purchase recycling that’s contaminated,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “Our residents have already demonstrated that they are dedicated to keeping recyclables out of the garbage by diverting 78 per cent of their waste — now we need to work together to focus on making sure these materials are recycled correctly.”

City teams are performing the on-site checks curbside at single-family homes and in multi-family complexes, providing residents with information on exactly what has been incorrectly placed in receptacles and how to dispose of things that cannot be recycled.

Some of the most common errors are glass bottles and jars put in the Blue Box and Blue Cart for containers instead of the Glass Recycling Bin, recyclables bundled inside plastic bags, and the inclusion of things not part of the collection programs (for example, electronics).

Audits will continue throughout the fall, and the city has indicated that if problems continue following the outreach, bins found with contaminated items may not be collected.

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By Benjamin Yong

October 27, 2017

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