Forget the gold star, let’s avoid the fines

We can’t recall facing fines for contaminated recycling before.

We can’t recall facing fines for contaminated recycling before.

But now with Multi-Material BC in charge, the City of Duncan is looking at some serious, and possibly really expensive, consequences if people don’t get things in the right bin.

And they’re not the only ones. The Cowichan Valley Regional District launched an education campaign last month to tackle contamination in recycling and we can only surmise that the impetus behind said campaign is a similar threat of fines.

Saving money with MMBC are we? The City of Duncan has warned that residents may bear some of any cost incurred, by issuing a $100 fine themselves to individuals whose waste doesn’t meet the standard.

That standard is three per cent contamination, prescribed by the agreement with MMBC.

Right now Duncan is at 15 per cent. That’s one uphill climb.

One that’s bound to make people angry.

After all, some of what’s now considered contamination, like film plastics and plastic bags, used to be acceptable in the regular recycling in some locations pre-MMBC.

People are already frustrated with how many different piles of refuse they have to maintain in order to be good recyclers.

There’s the plastic bags, the regular recycling, the glass, the light bulbs and batteries, Styrofoam — and the list goes on.

The CVRD and the city will be giving you a gold star if you get it all right, but that carrot  seems out of proportion with the stick of possibly up to $120,000 in fines for your municipal unit if you keep getting it wrong.

But while we do sympathize with those who are confused by the seemingly ever-changing recycling rules, and grumble about how they used to just have to throw all their garbage in the garbage bag without any of this recycling mumbo jumbo, we stand by the idea that it’s not only worth it, but essential in the long run for the future of our communities and the very planet we all live on.

And we should make a concerted effort to do better than 15 per cent contamination. The average contamination for other municipalities on the Island in 6.2 per cent. So Duncan really is particularly bad at this.

It’s worth doing some education so that people are up-to-speed on what to put in and what not to put in.

Most people want to do it right; errors are inadvertent. Valley people care about our environment, we’re proud when we can do something to reduce waste. It’s time to pull together.