Bro­ken glass and the evo­lu­tion of re­cy­cling

Times Colonist - - Islander - LARISA HUTCHESON Larisa Hutcheson is the gen­eral man­ager of parks and en­vi­ron­men­tal ser­vices for the Cap­i­tal Regional Dis­trict.

Re: “For Greater Vic­to­ria, re­cy­cling can be a pain in the glass,” Jan. 3.

Iwould like to clar­ify a few of the points raised in this ar­ti­cle — es­pe­cially as they re­late to curb­side col­lec­tion of this ma­te­rial.

Re­cy­cle B.C. is the provin­cial or­ga­ni­za­tion re­spon­si­ble for res­i­den­tial re­cy­cling in B.C. The Cap­i­tal Regional Dis­trict board de­cided to pay a pre­mium above Re­cy­cle B.C. fund­ing lev­els to con­tinue col­lect­ing glass un­der its sin­gle-fam­ily curb­side blue­box 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 B.C. 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.

Glass col­lected on be­half of Re­cy­cle B.C. at the curb and de­pots in the cap­i­tal re­gion is shipped to Ab­bots­ford to be pro­cessed into new bot­tles. If this glass is con­tam­i­nated with other ma­te­ri­als, it may be sent on­ward 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 along­side non-re­fund­able jars at a num­ber of re­cy­cling de­pots across the cap­i­tal re­gion.

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 this year, a com­mu­nity-in­formed strat­egy aimed at un­der­stand­ing and ad­dress­ing our col­lec­tive ideas, con­cerns and pri­or­i­ties for solid waste in the re­gion.

On be­half of the CRD, I look for­ward to this com­mu­nity-wide con­ver­sa­tion.

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