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Contaminated recycling costing Central Okanagan communities cash

Recycling carts average 8 per cent contamination, well above allowable levels of three per cent
In 2023 Central Okanagan Regional District is stepping up enforcement of recycling contamination. (Photo/RDCO)

In the last three months of 2022 Kelowna and West Kelowna were fined $55,000 by Recycle BC because residents threw things in blue bins that they shouldn’t.

Waste audits conducted regularly by Recycle BC show contamination in the Regional District Central Okanagan’s (RDCO) curbside recycling carts average around eight per cent, well above allowable levels of three per cent.

READ MORE: More than double of allowed contaminants in Peachland recycling bins

“Garbage doesn’t belong in your recycling cart,” says Travis Kendel, RDCO manager of engineering services.

“When the regional district finds unacceptable items, we provide education and if there is a lot, we’ll refuse to collect the cart. Despite our best efforts contamination still gets through, and there is a cost to that.”

Kendel added that unacceptable items being tossed in the carts include books, scrap metal, plastic toys, plastic bags, and glass.

“Last year, hundreds of carts were left at the curb, not picked up due to excessive contamination. Nearly ten thousand carts had contamination that required education material to be provided to the resident.”

Kendel said enforcement will be stepped up this year, with more contaminated carts left behind, more fines for violators, and more responsibility on the resident to keep garbage out of recycling.

The most common recycling contaminants are:

  • Household garbage;
  • Scrap metal;
  • Durable plastics such as laundry baskets, toys, tarps, and garden hoses;
  • Books;
  • Construction material;
  • Textiles such as clothes, shoes, bedding, pillows;
  • Hazardous waste such as electronics, propane tanks;
  • Depot only material such as plastic bags, styrofoam, glass, and other flexible plastic packaging.

For more information about what to recycle in a curbside cart or at a depot, visit the RDCO website or call the Regional Waste Reduction Office at 250-469-6250.

READ MORE: Central Okanagan Regional District looking at curbside take-away for food waste


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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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