Region’s glass recycling under review

Central Saanich councillors weigh in, saying people have to do better when it comes to recycling glass.

Recycling, specifically curb side collection of glass in the region, was debated at length during a special town hall meeting of Central Saanich council recently.

District council held the town hall meeting, seeking public input on issues facing the municipality and on the minds of residents.

Mayor Ryan Windsor, who is the council’s representative on the board of the Capital Regional District (CRD), said the CRD came up with a strategy to create a separate bin just for glass.

Windsor said Multi- Materials B.C. (MMBC), which took over the responsibility for managing residential recycling in the province, is concerned with material contamination.

“So if plastic is mixed with metal and mixed with glass of any kind,” Windsor said, “MMBC could potentially start fining municipalities — or the Capital Regional District — that are not properly separating glass.”

He said it’s re-using glass and other recyclables is a struggle at the political level.

“The challenge with that is that it doesn’t address a fundamental problem …” Windsor said, explaining that the amount of non-deposit refund glass is one third of the total glass going into blue boxes.

He added two-thirds is deposit refund glass, which is meant to go into a different stream then go back to breweries, to go back to producers to be refilled.

“I’m quite passionate about the issue, I believe that there is a cost savings from not picking up at the curb side and it could be quite substantial … in the order of half a million dollars over the remaining part of this mandate, with trucking getting more expensive.”

Windsor added that’s not an insignificant amount of money.

“I think a half a million dollars is worth saving.”

The CRD board has not yet made a decision on how to address glass recycling issues and will meet to discuss details further on Dec. 9.

Bottle depots that take the glass back want the CRD to try and divert it from going into those blue bins, Windsor continued, adding he wonders how do they go about doing that.

Windsor said they either put a ban on certain types of glass, specifically on the deposit refund, or they stop collecting glass altogether. He said issues would still remain, such as contamination rates if one type of glass is banned and others are not.

Essentially, he continued, recycling collectors would be turned into the police, as they then will have to pick through and find out what’s not meant to be there.

“It sounds to me that there’s some education required if there’s that much refundable glass, said Councillor Bob Thompson. “(If) two-thirds of it is refundable then … we’re losing a lot of money.”

Windsor said a lot of deposit refund glass is simply not being re-used but is being destroyed. That represents a significant loss of money and resources, he said.

“This issue seems to me that it’s kind of a regional issue of great importance and I think we’ve all got different concerns or feelings on it in terms of how to best dispose or recycle materials and so it doesn’t end up in the landfill if you’re too lazy to take it to a depot,” said Coun. Alicia Cormier.

One concerned resident said if grocery stores don’t take back people’s pickle jars, people are simply going to just dump stuff. The speaker said recycling must be made easy for people if local governments want them to conform.

Windsor said curb side collection of glass is currently facing a split with around 50 per cent of the municipalities in B.C. having stopped curb side collection and others who have continued.

The CRD’s Environmental Services Committee is re-examining its residential curb side glass collection.

Windsor said despite what MMBC might be saving in certain capacities, there’s a challenge to the idea that they are saving money.

“The reality of the cost implication over the next four years is a minimum of $100,000 a year additional cost for curb side collection of glass specifically,” he said, adding there is a cost increase not a decrease.

Coun. Niall Paltiell said there is a community ownership issue as well as an organizational ownership when it comes to the issue.

“I think at the end of the day, I think the CRD has probably let you down a little bit on this,” he told a crowd of close to 20 people at the town hall meeting.

“I think that at the same time though, from what the Mayor has stated, when it comes to sorting and being responsible citizens in our community, when it comes to how we treat waste, we’ve let them down as well.”