Sonbird depot manager Robin Jackson says that unlike recycling depots in other municipalities across the country, Sonbird features open air space. (Nicole Holman photo)

Sonbird depot manager Robin Jackson says that unlike recycling depots in other municipalities across the country, Sonbird features open air space. (Nicole Holman photo)

Surfrider Pacific Rim: Celebrating SonBird’s dedication to the Coast

West Coast recycling centre continues to serve thanks to an open-air depot and new regulations.

NICOLE HOLMAN

Special to the Westerly

Amidst the ongoing threat of COVID-19, SonBird Refuse and Recycling continues to operate curbside recycling collection and depot drop off for West Coast residents on behalf of the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD).

The global pandemic has shifted how cities across Canada and the United States manage their waste collection. However, companies like Sonbird have been able to continue regular service thanks to their open-air recycling depot and updated regulations.

With the increase in recycling generated during COVID-19, recycling services have become even more essential for ensuring the safety of terrestrial and marine ecosystems vulnerable to damage by mismanaged materials.

In addition to bi-weekly curbside recycling pickup, depots in Tofino and Ucluelet are open to the public to recycle plastic bags and overwraps, glass containers and foam packaging that cannot be placed curbside.

The reason they have been able to stay open, depot manager Robin Jackson states, is that unlike recycling depots in other municipalities across the country, SonBird features open air space. Large industrial sized garage doors on either end of the depot allow outside air to flow freely through the space. Furthermore, to continue to support the community and ensure the safety of the public and their team, a new workplace COVID-19 response plan has been put in place.

Newly introduced rules of engagement allow the facility to operate safely, maintain social distancing and to protect the health of workers and the public.

The updated regulations will only allow two people inside the depot at a time, requiring a minimum distance of six feet apart. Visitors unload their recyclable items into trays and are guided through the sorting process in the spirit of keeping like-materials together.

The virus has an exponential decay in virus titer—numerical expression of the quantity of the virus—across all recycled material surfaces.

Based on recommendations from research by the New England Journal of Medicine, SonBird’s sorted materials are left untouched for the determined number of days it will take the SARS-CoV-2 to lose stability on given surfaces. Research shows that the virus is more stable on plastic than any other material. In order for plastics to surpass their possible contamination date, they are left untouched for five days to ensure there is no viable virus present when being handled.

When asked about the current volume of recycling generated by residents and commercial sectors in the Pacific Rim, Jackson stated that the amount has not gone down since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Curbside pickup has increased due to the amount of people shopping online and eating from home, while public drop off has remained constant.

The depot acts as a transfer station where recycling is sorted into categories based on materials, packed down into ‘bails’ by a compressing machine, and shipped out to Nanaimo where it is then distributed for further processing.

Approximately 30,000 pounds of material are collected, sorted, packed and bailed every week to be shipped out.

If recycling services on the West Coast had ceased to operate during COVID-19, every week, this significant volume of materials would diminish the lifespan of the West Coast Landfill and threaten the ecological integrity of surrounding terrestrial and marine environments.

Nicole Holman is the staff intern at Surfrider Pacific Rim. This Surfrider Pacific Rim column was written to support our transparent waste education program for the ACRD which has the goal of increasing proper waste management practices across the coast and diverting waste streams from the landfill.

READ: Tofino-Ucluelet Surfrider Youth Club receives Wavemaker Award

RecyclingSurfrider

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
NTC president calls for ‘massive change’ after Indigenous woman shot by police in Hitacu

“We need to get to the root of what is actually happening with the RCMP and our communities”

Hotel Zed Tofino has won a Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Award. (Westerly file photo)
Hotel Zed Tofino wins commercial building award

Vancouver Island Real Estate Board holds virtual gala.

The District of Ucluelet is fast-tracking temporary use permits for RVs/campervans as seasonal housing. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet reviews 11 applications for RVs as seasonal housing

“Housing is so essential to everyone, and an issue that cases a lot of stress to business owners.”

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

A map of Huu-ay-aht-owned forestry cutblock. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
B.C. First Nations restrict access to territory in wake of forestry standoffs

Huu-ay-aht set up checkpoints after heated and dangerous incidents on southwest Vancouver Island

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

Most Read