Cowichan pilot project takes aim at plastic bag problem

Honeymoon Bay and Mesachie Lake residents will soon get to take part in a pilot project to recycle film plastic.

And, according to Area F regional director Ian Morrison it can be done cheaply and easily if everyone cooperates.

"It will be only film plastic. There will be signage. This is a pilot project. If there is any abuse of the program, it will likely cause its demise. We’re that serious. If there has to be any further sorting of that plastic, it will likely kill the program," he said.

But, if everyone’s on side, there could be a simple solution to a knotty problem starting as soon as the end of next week at community halls in both places.

The whole idea started with Morrison fielding lots of comments about changes in recycling rules that now rule out plastic bags AKA film plastic.

"The CVRD can be very proud of its recycling initiative, its diversion rate, all of that, but we still have the film plastic to deal with. The issue is that MMBC [Multi Materials BC] consider that plastic to be a banned item. There is barely a week that goes by when people haven’t expressed their dismay and disgust around the film plastic situation," he said.

Morrison said he approached CVRD Solid Waste Superintendent Jason Adair with an idea. A meeting was arranged with Cowichan Lake Recreation facilities staff, he said. "Film plastic is already getting into regular garbage bags so we are going to have [special] bins at both those halls.

"Honeymoon Bay and Mesachie Lake both have post offices in the community halls. That is a very important part of this. We wanted the pilot project to take place where there is a supervised site. We’re encouraging people when they go to the post office and collect their mail, just bring their bags of bags and deposit them in the bin," Morrison said.

The film plastic recycling will be available during post office hours only.

Morrison warned his residents to be sure to follow the rules.

"There will be no flyers or anything like that," he said.

The bins will be in place next week. "We don’t know the length of the pilot project yet but there’s very little used in the way of resources. It just means a couple of extra bins and a few moments of staff time when they are going about their regular duties to make this what we hope will be a very successful program."

Adair said that this pilot project, although smaller in scale, is aimed at addressing the same problems as those facing residents of the South End of the Cowichan Valley.

"We actually have entered into a large scale recycling agreement with Fisher Road Recycling for the South End. Everything that we accept at Bings Creek that’s related to the MMBC program will be accepted at Fisher Road Recycling. People will be able to drop off film plastic and other items such as glass, plastic and metal containers, cardboard, newspaper and Styrofoam," he said.

"They will host these bins and when we haul them away it will save people a trip to Bings Creek from the South End."

Both the projects address the major disincentive of having to get from the South End or Honeymoon Bay to Bings Creek.

"The CVRD recognizes that’s a long way to go," he said.

There’s a special Cowichan situation that requires a Cowichan solution, Adair said.

"We [the CVRD] were pretty unique. We were the only place in the province that took film plastic curbside. So when MMBC got rid of that, it was a big problem for a lot of people."

The regional district had been a leader in dealing with film plastic.

"It’s a terrible product to recycle. That’s why most jurisdictions don’t deal with it. There’s no value in it and it’s very difficult to sort. But our CVRD board thought it was important for us to offer that service."

There is a lot of this type of waste.

"We’re amazed at the depot just how much there is of it," he said.

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