Richmond residents encouraged to become Gold Star recyclers
27 May 2019
The City of Richmond is launching an expanded “Let’s recycle correctly!” awareness and education campaign to help residents further increase the amount of household waste being diverted from landfills and reduce costly contamination of goods intended for recycling. Residents who recycle correctly will be recognized with a Richmond Recycling Expert Gold Star and two free passes to City recreational facilities.
“We all share the responsibility of reducing our waste, keeping recyclable materials out of the landfill and making sure the items we do recycle can be accepted at processing facilities,” says Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “We know that more than 80 per cent of our household waste can be recycled into new products and recycling is a critical part of sustainable waste management. Here in Richmond, we want to continue to work together to be recycling leaders in our region, across Canada and even globally.”
Starting this week, City recycling teams will be conducting random visual audits of residential garbage and recycling, and will provide residents with customized tips on how they can recycle as much as possible and keep banned materials out of the garbage, as well as how to sort recycling correctly.
By conducting at-a-glance scans of curbside garbage and recycling, City teams will identify areas where there are consistent problems with recycling quality or where items that can be recycled are noticed in the garbage. These on-site checks will take place in residential neighbourhoods with curbside collection. Residents will receive a Report Card on how well they are doing, which will highlight any areas needing improvement. The Report Card will also include tips on how residents can increase the amount they recycle, as well as how to recycle items correctly, including items that can be taken to the Richmond Recycling Depot.
Some of the most common recyclable items being found in the garbage are food scraps, electronics, Styrofoam, plastic bags and flexible plastic packaging. All of these items can be recycled – food scraps go in the Green Cart, and electronics, Styrofoam and plastic packaging are all accepted at the Richmond Recycling Depot. Glass and butane cylinders are among the most common contamination problems in the Blue Box. Glass bottles/jars must be separated into the Glass Recycling Bin, and
butane cylinders as well as many other household items are accepted at the Richmond Recycling Depot. Green Cart contamination is most often plastic bags – including biodegradable/compostable plastic bags, which do not break down properly and cause problems during composting processes.
The City will also be flagging when recycled items are found bundled in plastic bags, when different types of recycling have been stacked or nestled together (e.g. placing a paper cup inside an aluminium can is not accepted, but placing a plastic container within another plastic container is acceptable), and when items have not been rinsed and contain food residue.
Richmond is working with residents to encourage them to be extra diligent about recycling for several reasons. Sending waste to landfills is not sustainable – there is limited landfill space and the majority of household waste should be recycled into new materials.
It’s also essential to have good quality recycling because processing facilities have increasingly high requirements for these materials. The quality of recycling is reduced when non-recyclable items are found in recycling bins, or when recyclables are not sorted into the correct bin. When these types of problems occur, recycling is considered “contaminated” and recycling processors may either pay less for the materials or refuse to buy them. If banned items are found in the garbage or contamination is found in recycling, the City can also be charged fines and other penalties, which could impact utility fees.
The random audits and communication campaign will take place over the next eight weeks, with another set of audits planned for the fall. In addition to the education with residents involved in the random audits, the City’s “Let’s recycle correctly!” campaign includes communication and outreach in the community through social media, advertising and on its website to raise awareness about the importance of recycling consistently and correctly.
The City also has programs underway to support increased waste diversion as part of achieving its goal to divert 80 per cent of household waste from the landfill by 2020, litter management programs and continued expansion of items accepted at the Richmond Recycling Depot, including the recent addition of passenger and light duty truck tires, electronics, propane tanks and butane cylinders. All of these programs are designed to promote sustainable waste management in Richmond.