By Lyonel Doherty
If you’ve grown attached to your beloved blue bag for recyclables, better hold on tight because it might be banned in your community.
But the regional district has your back because it’s fighting RecycleBC’s proposal to ban the bags in favour of blue boxes and carts.
The regional board is requesting the Ministry of Environment to intercede in the proposal, which could see the bags banned by July 2020.
RecycleBC (formerly Multi Material BC) will require all local governments to supply either blue boxes or carts to all participating homes.
The Town of Oliver has opted to implement the automated cart system for garbage, recycling and yard waste collection.
The Town of Osoyoos has opted to continue collection of recycling materials using customer-supplied containers (blue bags).
Mayor Sue McKortoff said she supports the regional district’s challenge, noting that Osoyoos residents and Area A homeowners use the blue bags.
“They contain the garbage and keep it dry, show what is inside, and are easy to move for our older residents,” she stated.
Area A director Mark Pendergraft could not be reached for comment.
Cameron Baughen, the regional district’s solid waste management coordinator, said the announcement by RecycleBC was unexpected.
“It came after the RDOS had completed its procurement process for a new, seven-year collection contract.”
Baughen said this contract involves the use of customers’ blue bags.
He noted that RecycleBC wants all local governments to use blue boxes, with two boxes supplied to each home. One would be for printed paper, the other would be for packaging, such as paper cups, plastic tubs and metal cans.
“The RDOS has looked at implementing a blue box program many times and there are serious issues for rural areas,” Baughen said.
He explained this blue box collection works best once a week, but this creates very high operating costs for rural areas with few homes and long driving distances.
When collecting every two weeks, the local government must supply homeowners with very large or numerous bins to store these recyclables, Baughen said.
“Research has shown that there can be significantly less recyclables collected in a blue box program as compared to a blue bag program due to the lack of convenience.”
In windy areas, blue boxes will create wind- blown litter, he added.
RecycleBC allows local governments to implement the cart system, but doesn’t encourage it due to high rates of contamination of recyclables, Baughen pointed out.
He explained that blue bags significantly reduce the amount of contaminates compared to cart collection because you can see through the bag.
Area C director Terry Schafer said he strongly disagrees with RecycleBC’s proposition.
“For those of us who live in the rural area, especially those of us who are seniors and have long unpaved driveways, it’s inconvenient to use carts for recycling.”
Schafer noted the blue bag can easily be brought to the curb in your vehicle.