AT RANDOM: Blue box blues

Jennifer Smith tackles the issue of changes to the recycling program

Despite efforts to win us over with flashy new blue boxes, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of excitement over the new recycling system in town.

The new boxes have been making their rounds (two per household) courtesy of Emterra Environmental throughout the Regional District of North Okanagan.

These new boxes will replace the traditional blue bag recycling methods many of us are accustomed to, through Multi Material BC on May 19.

That’s the first glitch.

Although I have yet to receive mine, from what I understand these new boxes will be unable to hold as much material as the blue bags. In our house, we cram those bags right to the brim with recyclables and quickly tie them off before the contents explode. So I would guess that the boxes can only handle half that of a bag.

It would seem that the program is restricting how much we can recycle. But they claim that’s not the case.

Although we can’t use blue bags after the program starts (I wonder how Glad is faring from that loss), we can fill extra containers, such as a box. It’s definitely not as ideal as tossing bags out to the curb, but I suppose it works.

The fact that this is an open box is the second glitch.

I don’t think Emterra or MMBC factored Mother Nature into the equation.

We are told to stack the boxes or put a rock on top of contents to prevent the wind from blowing them about. But we all know that this is inevitably going to create more litter as boxes are blown over and paper is strewn about. Then there’s the rain (newspaper soup anyone?).

One item we won’t have to worry about flying out of the boxes is plastic bags. That’s because they aren’t allowed in the blue boxes.

Glitch No. 3

Apparently it’s too difficult to sort plastic from other recyclables, therefore all plastic bags and overwrap will only be accepted at a drop-off depot.

So now on top of all the boxes I need to store, I have to find room in my garage for plastic bags (on top of the glass jars and styrofoam I already attempt to save).

The reality is, they won’t make it to the depot. It’s a lot easier for someone to toss the bags in the trash than it is to collect, store and drive them across town.

All in all, I question the need for this new system (which also includes some major issues for producers, but that’s a whole ‘nother column). The recycling service we had worked wonderfully. Even though the new system is free to residents, the former service was a small expense for taxpayers ($20 for a full year is pretty affordable). It worked well, so why fix it?

While I appreciate all the effort that’s gone into ensuring more items actually get recycled, I personally don’t see the benefit in this new system.

It claims more items can be recycled, but when I compare the list to the items I already recycle, I actually see a reduction.

Unfortunately I think it could prove to be more of a hassle than it’s worth for many residents. I truly hope not, as there is obviously immense benefits to our environment to reduce, reuse and recycle. But just to give you an example, it’s taken me at least 10 years to train my husband to recycle (and I’m still pulling items from the trash). People don’t change overnight.

And I don’t think our recycling system should change overnight either.

There are a lot of glitches that need to be worked out and hopefully those too will come.