B.C. is one of the few provinces in Canada that has one of the most efficient recycling programs.
According to the supervisor of Solid Waste Management for the Cariboo Regional District (CRD), Tera Grady, every time a consumer purchases a can of soup or cardboard box, a portion of its cost goes toward it being recycled.
“We are one of the few provinces in Canada that has the producers pay a fee for packaging they create to be recycled,” said Grady. “It’s called Extended Producer Responsibility.”
Extended Producer Responsibility is an environmental policy approach in which the producers take responsibility for reducing environmental impact by managing the whole life cycle of the product. According to the Ministry of Environment, they are responsible for the selection of materials, the design and its end-of-life.
For the Cariboo region, all of the house hold recycling services are managed by a stewardship agency called Recycle B.C. The program has a detailed list of items that are accepted – it has to be packaging from the producers.
“Recycling does not produce revenue,” said Grady. “It is expensive to do and somebody has to be pay for it. Right now, it’s the producers of the packaging that are funding the program so it’s important only the items they are paying for, end up being recycled.”
“As a consumer, you have to make sure it ends up being recycled,” she added.
The term “wish-cycling” is used to describe when a person puts something in their recycle bin, hoping it will be recycled. Grady said it’s important to recognize not everything is accepted into the current program being used. When garbage or other non-recyclable materials end up in the system or at the depots, the product becomes contaminated.
“As a collector for Recycle BC, we are audited,” said Grady. “Anytime material from one of our depots goes to the coast, Recycle BC will take samples and audit it. If our contamination is excessive, we can be fined.”
Over the last several years, materials coming from the Cariboo have come back with a contamination rate of three per cent.
The highest it has been was 11 per cent.
“We haven’t been fined yet, but anytime we get a poor audit, we are following up with the attendants at that particular facility to make sure they are interacting with residents, so residents can become aware of what can and can’t be recycled.”
Grady said there has been a decreasing trend in contamination levels for the Cariboo Regional District.
“If we want these services to be continued, we have to abide by the guidelines,” said Grady. “Our levels have been improving. It’s just important to be aware of what is and is not included in the program.”
If residents have questions about what can be recycled and where they can do it – call the Recycling Council of BC at 1-800-667-4321.