The Cowichan Valley Regional District plans to step up enforcement measures to encourage less contamination in its curbside recycling program.
In a report to the CVRD’s electoral area services committee, Amanda Kletchko, an environmental technologist with the district’s recycling and waste management division, said the one audit conducted of recyclable materials left at the curb so far in 2021 indicated there was a contamination rate of 19 per cent, well above the maximum three per cent rate allowed by the district’s partnership agreement with Recycle BC.
The CVRD could be subject to fines of up to $5,000 per load of packaging and printed paper material that contains more than three per cent of unacceptable material.
Kletchko said Recycle BC performed 13 recycling audits in the district in 2020, resulting in a contamination average of 15 per cent, with the lowest being nine per cent and highest 23 per cent.
She said that since 2014, when the automated curbside recycling program launched in the CVRD, staff have used a variety of methods to communicate the program’s accepted curbside recycling materials to residents, including card mail outs, information decals on totes, social media ads, and in-person booths at public events.
“Although significant efforts have been undertaken by staff to inform residents of appropriate recycling materials, curbside contamination is still commonly identified by CVRD truck drivers and through RecycleBC audits,” Kletchko said.
She said currently, once contamination is detected, up to two warnings are mailed to the offending residences.
“The first warning is accompanied by an informational handout and encouragement to contact the recycling hot line for more information, or to request for a home visit from staff to review acceptable material,” Kletchko said.
“The second warning carries an escalated warning which includes ticketing information and encouragement to contact the office for clarification, or to advise if the notice had been sent in error.”
Kletchko said staff are now planning to further enforce the curbside collection bylaw by issuing a third-warning notice which would be delivered to the resident by a CVRD bylaw officer.
“The bylaw officer would provide information regarding the curbside collection bylaw, which permits a $100 fine for non-recyclable material in recycling totes, and would perform a formal review of acceptable curbside material,” she said.
“If contamination is identified in the totes after the visit from the bylaw officer, a $100 ticket will be issued to the resident.”
Kletchko said it’s expected that the first third warning notice could be initiated as early as August.
“Staff anticipate that receiving warning notices will encourage a change in behaviour, and hope the visit from the bylaw officer will not be necessary,” she said.
‘The goal of the…warning notices is to ensure that the CVRD has clearly conveyed acceptable curbside material to all residents. All residents will have received a tote decal, information card, recycling hot line contact information, and three warning notices before being issued a fine.”