Recycling needs to be radically simplified
I recently saw an article in the Citizen regarding the implementation of a new recycling program that accepts materials like potato chip bags, snack bar wrappers, and fruit and veggie netting. I was very pleased to read this so I had been sorting that stuff in our household, and took it to Fisher Road Recycling yesterday. Unfortunately, I learned that they have not begun implementing this new program. The employee I spoke to said they hoped to start accepting those materials soon.
That was disappointing but what was worse was watching other people attempting to sort their recycling at Fisher Road but being confused by the various bins and signs — they simply weren’t sure which materials should go where. There is clearly still a lot of confusion regarding what materials are accepted and where they should go. And this is with materials that have been accepted for years now — just imagine what it will be like when even more materials are accepted.
My point is not to disparage Fisher Road Recycling, the CVRD, or the latest recycling program — I am very happy that people are making all these efforts to decrease the ridiculous amount of waste we as a society produce. My point is that our current recycling systems are so fractured and confusing that most people cannot be bothered to try to figure them out, and if people don’t use them properly or at all, that negates having the systems in the first place.
To have a successful recycling program, it must be both easy to understand and easy to follow. As it stands, here in the Cowichan Valley we can put many items in the roadside collection bins; however, there are many items like plastic bags, Styrofoam, glass, batteries, and broken electronics which are NOT accepted in the roadside bins — but they ARE accepted at certain locations throughout the Valley. Now we have a new type of recycling that is accepted at SOME facilities here but it’s not clear which facilities those are.
In my opinion, this system is so confusing and inconvenient right now that it dissuades even people like myself who are passionate about waste reduction from using it properly, so I don’t think it’s realistic to expect anyone else to use it properly. We need a simpler, easier system that encourages use and compliance from everyone. I understand why some materials are not accepted in the bins and why the sorting at depots is as complex as it is but those reasons are hamstringing the entire system. If we want the system to be successful, it must be radically simplified.
And this is only looking at the small picture. Really, there should be consistency in these programs across the province. Perhaps if we get our recycling act together here in the valley, we could create a blueprint for the rest of the province to follow.