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Recycling Glass in the CRD

Jan 10, 2019 Editor

by Roger Stonebanks. citizen reporter

Glass collected through the curbside Blue Box collection in Greater Victoria continues to be recycled on the mainland.

This was made clear to Saanich Voice Online on Jan. 9 by Colin Plant, Chair of the Capital Regional District board and a Saanich councillor.

Glass collected on behalf of Recycle BC at the curb and depots across BC is shipped to Abbotsford to be processed into new bottles.

Glass from many apartments and condos is no longer being collected by private haulers for recycling. As a result glass is going into the garbage for Hartland Landfill where glass is a banned material.

This has led to some wrong assumptions about what happens to glass collected curbside from single-family homes – this continues, in a separate container from the Blue Box itself and containing only glass, and the glass does not go to Hartland Landfill.

Plant told SVO: “Glass collected on behalf of Recycle BC at the curb and depots across BC is shipped to Abbotsford to be processed into new bottles. If this glass is contaminated with other materials it may be sent onwards to a facility in Quesnel to be made into sandblast materials.

“Having said that, it’s difficult and costly for private haulers to recycle glass from multi-family residences because of how it’s communally collected in these buildings. This glass is often contaminated with other materials or incorrectly placed into other streams of recyclables, breaking into small pieces that can render an entire load of otherwise recyclable materials as garbage.

“In January 2018, China—the world’s largest market for recyclable markets—significantly lowered its allowable levels of contamination in recycled items from international sources. As a result, the business decision made by some private waste haulers in our region to discontinue glass collection from multi-family residences and commercial buildings is both a reaction to the current realities facing the glass recycling industry and an attempt to make sure that broken glass doesn’t contaminate paper and plastic materials so that these markets can be maintained.

“Although the situation in some multi-family buildings isn’t ideal, this glass can still be diverted from the landfill. Residents can refuse products in glass containers or reuse them for other purposes instead of recycling them. Glass beverage containers can also be returned for a refund at recycling depots across the capital region alongside non-refundable jars.

“Ultimately, this recent shift in policy from some private waste haulers reiterates the connection we all have to our waste—how much we create, how we dispose of it and what the end life for these materials is both today and tomorrow in an ever-changing world.

“For a generation now CRD residents have done a great job recycling; however, solid waste management is evolving and our roles as citizens and consumers in creating and managing our waste are also changing. As residents, we’ll each have an opportunity to contribute our thoughts on this topic during the development of the CRD’s new solid waste management plan later this year, a community-informed strategy aimed at understanding and addressing our collective ideas, concerns and priorities for solid waste in the region.”

Plant added: “Recycle BC is the provincial organization that is responsible for residential recycling in BC. The CRD Board decided to pay a premium, above Recycle BC funding levels, to continue collecting glass under its single family curbside blue box program by segregating glass into a separate collection container. Glass-separated collection has been successful so far, thanks in large part to our residents diligently placing their rinsed glass materials safely at the curb in a separate container or bringing these items to a local recycling depot. For this reason, glass continues to be a priority for collection in the CRD’s curbside program—and we will continue to be successful if residents keep doing their part.

“This complete segregation has been successful, with Recycle BC ensuring that glass collected through both the CRD’s blue box program and local depots continues to be recycled even though the markets for this material have closed from most other sources.”