Recycling education in Cowichan Valley Regional District reducing contamination

Last week, staff audited the same route and found the contamination rate has dropped to 10 per cent.

There has been a noticeable decline in contamination in curbside recycling since the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s public awareness campaign was launched this summer.

In March, CVRD staff audited a load of recycling from a collection route north of Ladysmith and found 25 per cent of the material was contaminated with non-acceptable materials.

Last week, staff audited the same route and found the contamination rate has dropped to 10 per cent.

CVRD staff have been checking recycling totes at the curb over the summer to give residents personalized feedback about what items can be recycled at the curb using ‘Oops’ and ‘Gold Star’ stickers.

If contamination rates were excessive, staff has been leaving totes unemptied.

“Before we started the campaign, nearly every tote we audited had plastic bags, chip bags or other types of contaminants,” says Jason Adair, the CVRD’s solid-waste operations superintendent.

“But this type of targeted education is very effective. Of the hundreds of totes we’ve left ‘Oops’ stickers on during the first audit, most have no contamination on the second audit. Overall, we’ve only had to leave about 10 totes unemptied because of high rates of contamination.”

Adair said audits will continue over the next few months with additional routes in the CVRD’s electoral areas being added over time.

He said residents are reminded that just because something isn’t accepted in curbside recycling, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t recyclable.

“Recycling centres throughout the region accept hundreds of items,” Adair said.

To help people understand exactly what to put in their curbside recycling, the CVRD recently released a short video as part of the Recycle 2.0 Recycle Right at the Curb campaign.

To see the new video, visit

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