What happens to the many materials that pass through your hands in the course of a day – metal, plastic, glass, paper, fabrics, chemicals –when they’re no longer wanted or needed?
Do you simply throw them in the garbage and move on? That’s an easy place to put them, but it’s also filling the local landfill and draining the earth’s resources to create more products.
So you’re going to recycle, but now things get complicated: What goes where?
Why some materials go into curb-side recycling while others go to the recycling depots – and why some aren’t recyclable at all – comes down to several factors:
- Has the producer has taken responsibility for the item at the end of its life?
- Is the cost of collecting, transporting and processing lower than the value of the recycled material?
- Is the material clean and put in the right place?
- Is there is a market for the recycled material?
Extended Producer Responsibility
To take the uncertainty out of recycling, provincial regulations require producers to be responsible for end-of-life recycling or disposal of their products.
Various places in the Alberni Valley participate in the “Extended Producer Responsibility Program,” including the 3rd Avenue and Landfill recycling depots, in addition to retailers that accept various items for recycling.
For example, Recycle BC funds the collection and recycling of printed paper and product packaging. Which materials are collected depends on whether they can be mechanically separated at processing facilities and whether they’re pure enough to be re-processed into virgin materials, explains Jenny Brunn, Manager of Operations, Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.
The product packaging or printed paper that can be recycled in your blue box can all be mechanically separated and baled in the materials sorting facility in Nanaimo.
Glass, plastic bags and foam plastics cannot be mechanically sorted and must be collected in separate containers only at Recycle BC depots. Glass and foam packaging tend to break and contaminate the other materials. Plastic bags clog and stop the machinery. These have to be brought to the depots to be recycled.
Certain laminated plastic packaging now being collected at Recycle BC depots for a pilot waste to energy program, such as granola wrappers, candy wrappers, foil-lined chip bags, stand-up pouches, zip-lock bags or crinkly plastics.
Hard plastics – such as toys, furniture, PVC – are currently not recyclable.