I wonder if anyone at Multi-Material B.C. looked at a map when they were developing the new recycling model?
I ask that question because when the provincially mandated initiative begins May 19, depots will be established so residents can get rid of glass bottles, plastic foam packaging and plastic bags and overwrap (they won’t be accepted in the curbside blue boxes).
For the North Okanagan, only two drop-off sites have been identified and they are both in Vernon (Venture Training and Interior Freight). While the former Regional District of North Okanagan program had drop-off locations for glass throughout the region, MMBC appears to be unaware that places like Armstrong, Enderby and Lumby exist.
The expectation must be that residents from those communities will load up their glass and plastic and simply head into Vernon to get rid of them.
However, consider that not everyone from Enderby, Lumby and Armstrong comes into Vernon on a regular basis, and if they do, it may be for shopping at night when the two depots will be closed.
Also, there are residents who don’t have vehicles and rely on transit so lugging a box of jars on the bus isn’t practical.
Even under the existing RDNO program with drop-offs across the region, most residents have a stock-pile of jars in sheds, garages or cupboards waiting to be disposed of. What’s going to happen when there are even fewer opportunities to get rid of them in the North Okanagan?
The answer, most likely, is those pickle and jam jars, as well as plastic bags, overwrap and plastic foam packaging, will be discarded into the trash because it will be far more convenient than driving all over heck’s half acre.
Of course there is another option and that is to take them to the local landfills, where the regional district will continue to accept glass bottles and jars.
However, if most residents are anything like me, they only go to the dump a couple of times a year when the shed has become clogged with junk or bags of rotting leaves dot the yard like a relay course.
Given the nature of the business, landfills are located in out-of-the-way places and not right downtown so just popping in is rather difficult, especially if you live in Enderby because the closest landfill is in Spallumcheen.
And for anyone familiar with the Greater Vernon landfill, you will know what it’s like to try and get back on to Highway 97 as vehicles pass you at the speed of light. No one will risk their life to get rid of an empty relish jar.
MMBC has made a lot out of the fact that the new industry-led recycling program will be more effective than the old regional district model and the list of items that can be recycled will grow.
However, that argument is extremely flawed when you consider that plastic bags and overwrap can no longer just be left at the curb.
Also, the former RDNO program had drop-off sites at businesses in Enderby and Armstrong, as well as two in Vernon. MMBC is only offering two in total, both within Vernon.
What is bound to happen is many residents, and especially those outside of Greater Vernon, will be frustrated with the inability to get rid of glass and plastic products in an easy manner and they’ll pitch the items into the trash. Now such a move will go against bylaws that restrict what goes into landfills but black bags can hide a lot of evidence.
And, ultimately, if we start to see quantities of glass bottles and plastic wrap mixed in with legitimate garbage, we will know that the MMBC experiment was a failure.