Residents in the North Okanagan have waited as many as four weeks for their curbside recycling bins to be collected. In response, those in charge of collecting are adding to their fleet and personnel.
Recycle BC is in charge of collection services in the district, and due a spate of poor weather conditions and mechanical issues, the organization’s contracted collection company has fallen off schedule.
“We appreciate that the collection services have been experiencing some significant challenges in the North Okanagan, and those challenges have extended over the course of a number of weeks,” said Dave Lefebvre, public affairs director for Recycle BC.
Lefebvre says some residents may have missed two bi-weekly collection cycles, which would leave their bins uncollected for four weeks in total.
“We apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused, and we want people to know that we’re working closely with our contracted collector to ensure that the collection schedule returns to normal.”
Recycle BC’s contracted collector for the North Okanagan is Emterra Environment, and Lefebvre says snowy roads and mechanical issues have caused the company to miss some service areas, resulting in a backlog of materials in need of collection.
“What we’ve seen specifically is issues related to severe weather, and as a result of that severe weather we’ve actually seen several trucks end up in ditches,” said Lefebvre. “Whenever that happens that obviously creates a service disruption for whatever zone should have been collected on that day.”
In fact, there were two separate days in which two trucks wound up in the ditch – the most recent being Tuesday, Jan. 21.
In an effort to get back on schedule, Emterra has brought in two additional trucks from Victoria and is more than doubling its collection personnel.
“This week Emterra has 10 people on the road collecting materials. What that means is every single truck has both a driver and a person who’s dedicated to collect the materials,” said Lefebvre. “Ordinarily there would only be four people on the road on any given day.”
In addition, a collection team will be out on the roads this Saturday – not a usual service day.
“That’s really in order to try to catch up on the materials that have not been collected and get the schedule back on track,” added Lefebvre.
The Regional District of the North Okanagan (RDNO) has been fielding a number of calls from residents asking when their blue bins will be picked up, but since 2014 the district has not been involved in recycling collection.
In 2014 the provincial government mandated that producers who put paper and packaging into the marketplace are responsible for recycling services. A program was created that gave regional districts two options: to continue to collect the materials and receive financial reimbursement from Recycle BC, or to have Recycle BC hire a contracted provider to collect on their behalf.
Of the 169 communities that have taken part in the program, the North Okanagan is one of 13 communities that chose to have contracted providers.
To keep track of when your trucks will be in your neighbourhood or to stay up-to-date on any future delays, download the Recycle BC app at recyclebc.ca/app. The app is designed to keep residents updated on changes to collection schedules, as well as offer information on what can and can’t be recycled.