Commercial recycling changes cause confusion in Revelstoke

Changes to the commercial recycling regime in Revelstoke has left some commercial operators with no options to recycle some of their materials, even though residential users can recycle those items.

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Recycling bins at the Revelstoke transfer station. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine
[Editor’s note: There have been changes that affect commercial recycling in Revelstoke. This story is simply a brief Q&A with the regional government manger asking about the changes. There are many perspectives, including from those who have been affected. We encourage you to add to the conversation by commenting.]

Recent commercial recycling changes in Revelstoke have left some business owners without options to recycle some of their materials. Specifically, commercial businesses that had been recycling through the Bottle Depot were told they are no longer allowed to recycle there.

To add to the problem, the contractor that operates the recycling centre at the Revelstoke transfer station has not been offering any recycling at all on some days. (When I dropped by a couple weeks ago, staff at the centre cited logistics problems getting the large bags that hold recyclables like cardboard and paper.)

Mattresses peek out from underneath the melting snow at the Revelstoke transfer station in this file photo. Recently, mattress processing has moved to a new location closer to the weigh scale and seems to have improved the situation. Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer file photo

On a good day, the recycling regime is Revelstoke is already a complicated patchwork of organizations. There’s the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) that operates the dump and recycling depot on Westside Road, the privately run Bottle Depot in the industrial park, the provincial Recycle BC program which oversees commercially generated recycling in the province, and a curbside collection system run by commercial contractors, to name a few.

For the Q&A below, we contacted CSRD Environmental Health Services leader Ben Van Nostrand to ask what led to the most recent changes:

Revelstoke Mountaineer: Business owners in Revelstoke have complained they are no longer able to recycle their materials. What has changed and when did it change?

Ben Van Nordstrand: Since 2015, when the CSRD accepted Recycle BC’s offer to manage printed, paper and packaging (PPP), commercial/business materials were no longer accepted at CSRD recycling locations (Bottle Depot and landfill). We did establish a program for commercial cardboard at the landfill, but no programs have been established for other PPP materials. It has come to our attention that the previous owners of the Bottle Depot were accepting commercial materials. More recently the Bottle Depot has come under the scrutiny of Recycle BC for accepting commercially generated PPP.

Essentially the new owner is simply following the rules by not allowing commercial PPP to be dropped off at the Bottle Depot.

RM: Why were the changes made?

BVN: Because the new owner wants to be in compliance with his agreements with Recycling BC and the CSRD.

Mount Mattress, Mount Macpherson and Mount Metal pictured from the Revelstoke transfer station. We produce a lot of waste! This file photo is not from this year. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer file photo

If business owners want to recycle their materials, what can they do?

Commercial cardboard is accepted at the landfill for $80/tonne. I would encourage the commercial sector to lobby Recycle BC and their MLA to change provincial regulations which prohibit commercial PPP from the residential Recycle BC program.

Is there anything commercial operators can’t recycle that residential customers can?

Yes, the PPP categories other than cardboard listed on the Recycle BC website.

What about refundables, such as beer bottles from a local pub or restaurant? Where can commercial users recycle their bottles and cans?

This is misinformation. The Bottle Depot has never stopped accepting refundables from commercial businesses … that is the core of their business. This rumor apparently is being spread by commercial operators who are unhappy the Bottle Depot is no longer accepting their commercially generated Recycle BC PPP.

Recently, the Revelstoke transfer station has not been accepting any recycling on some days. Why has this been happening? In the past 30 days, how many days has it not been accepting recycling?

This is true, Recycle BC’s subcontractor has not been performing the required servicing at the Revelstoke landfill to the point where the CSRD cannot operate the depot. We have expressed our concerns to Recycle BC and based on our inspection Thursday, the landfill recycling depot is back up and running. We are hoping that servicing levels are maintained so that we don’t have to disrupt service to the public.

Commercial users are being directed to dump their recyclables into the Revelstoke landfill. Are there any plans to change this?

The CSRD, along with all regional districts in the province are currently lobbying the ministry to change the stewardship plans and require that Recycle BC include commercially generated materials into the Recycle BC program.

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