Altered recycling leaves Port Alberni residents confused

Changes to the collection of recyclable materials has created confusion among some residents forced to alter their wastesaving habits.

On May 19, changes were introduced to the list of materials collected in the Valley’s curbside recycling program, which serves Port Alberni and Beaver Creek.

Recyclable items that can be picked up in the bi-weekly route now include milk cartons, tetra packs, non-hazardous aerosol containers, hot and cold drinking cups, as well as frozen juice containers. But plastic bags are no longer collected in the curbside program provided by the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.

Some residents have been surprised to find portions of their recyclable waste left behind by the collection truck at the curb, including Lydian Heiman. The last few curbside collections have left her with a growing stock of plastic bags.

“They are picking up my recycling, but they pick through it and won’t pick up certain things,” Heiman said. “Any kind of plastic material that was of a soft plastic, they wouldn’t take those.”

The curbside changes are the result of Multi-Materials B.C., a provincial initiative intended to place the costs of recycling onto the producers of recyclable materials. Companies are now charged for producing newspapers, plastic containers and other recyclable items.

Janice Hill, the ACRD’s environmental services coordinator, said although the new recycling program is seeing some growing pains, she expects the changes will mean less waste ends up in the Alberni Valley Landfill in the long run. She said plastic bags have proven to be the biggest issue with residents so far.

“They won’t pick up recyclables in a plastic bag,” said Hill, who encourages residents to leave their items in a plastic bin for collection.

Hill said that most other communities don’t accept plastic bags in curbside recycling programs, as the material often interferes with the sorting process. What is collected in the Alberni Valley is currently trucked to facilities in Parksville, Nanaimo or Victoria for sorting before the separated material is sent to a market that can reuse the discarded items.

“If you ever went to an assorting facility you see that the plastic is hanging off of everything,” Hill said.

Plastic bags can be taken to one of the Valley’s recycling depots, located at the Alberni Valley Landfill and 3620 Third Ave. Glass bottles and jars can also be brought to these locations, as can Styrofoam.

While residents will save on the annual recycling fee, the changes have compromised convenience, said Heiman.

“It makes it far more challenging for families -I don’t have space to store tonnes of plastic bags or glass bottles or whatever it is they’re no longer recycling lying around my house,” she said. “Am I going to keep three, four, five or six glass jars lying around my house? Certainly not. I’m going to throw them in the garbage.”

A complete list of what items are accepted in the region’s curbside and depot recycling programs is available at recyclingbc. ca.

EPlummer@avtimes.net