Que Pasa, Part 2 - More FAQs About Recycling

January 15, 1999

By Michael Jessen

This is another column to clip out and save as I continue with part two of the frequently asked questions (FAQ) about waste reduction and recycling.

Why are certain materials banned from disposal facilities as garbage? Both the Regional Districts of Kootenay Boundary and Central Kootenay are attempting to reach the provincially mandated goal of at least 50 percent reduction in per capita garbage disposal by the year 2000. Using 1990 as the base year, both regional districts have achieved about a 30 percent reduction to date. To give the public a clear message about the importance of keeping recyclable material out of the landfill, the RDKB has already banned corrugated cardboard, oil filters, refundable beverage containers, and on July 1, 1999 will implement a ban on all recyclable paper. Both regional districts will double the tipping fee for garbage containing recyclable material. In addition, special wastes (which are dangerous and hazardous as defined by the Ministry of Environment) are banned from landfills to protect the environment, the safety of workers and the public. Materials are banned from disposal if there is an infrastructure in place to recycle them or if they pose an environmental concern. Material bans conserve landfill space, assist the regional districts in extending the life of disposal facilities, and save energy and resources.

Where can I recycle oil and oil filters? Mohawk gas stations will accept up to 20 litres uncontaminated used motor oil. If your community doesn't have a Mohawk station, contact local service stations to inquire whether they accept used oil. Canadian Tire in Castlegar accepts uncontaminated used oil, oil filters, antifreeze and automotive batteries. Kootenay Oil Filter and Antifreeze Recovery -- as their name implies -- accepts oil filters, antifreeze as well as paint and solvents in Nelson. Tri Valley Equipment in Salmo accepts oil filters, antifreeze and automotive batteries.

Where can I recycle propane tanks? Most service stations that dispense propane will accept all sizes of propane bottles and tanks.

How can I dispose of my old prescription drugs? Most pharmacies are now part of the EnviRx program. This program enables customers to return their unused prescriptions and syringes back to the pharmacy for safe disposal at no cost. Call your local pharmacy ahead of time to ensure they are participating in the program.

What is contamination? This is unacceptable material placed in recycling collection containers. For example, window glass with glass bottles. The window glass is considered a contaminant. The result is that contamination increases the program cost and ultimately the cost to the taxpayer. Read all signs at recycling drop-offs and separate material accordingly.

Why can't I recycle light bulbs, window panes and Pyrex with my glass? These glass products all have different compositions and therefore different melting points, making it impossible to make glass bottles without imperfections.

Do I need to wash plastic and metal containers? YES! Washing the containers will reduce odours. There's nothing worse than working in a recycling depot permeated with the smell from old food containers.

Do I need to remove the label from metal cans? Yes. Paper labels on metal cans are relatively easy to remove. If paper is included in the metal stream, it is considered a contaminant which produces impurities in the end product, causing the metal to be downgraded. Recycle the labels in the mixed paper category.

Do I need to remove the label from glass bottles? No. The process for recycling glass bottles has developed to enable the label to be removed prior to the heating phase by a screening process.

Do I need to remove staples before recycling paper? No. During the paper recycling process, the pulp passes through numerous screens to remove staples and other contaminants.

Do I need to remove the windows from my envelopes in order to recycle them? No. Most window envelopes are made out of water soluble paper fibre instead of the plastic that was once used.

How do I get further information about waste reduction and recycling in my area? Both the RDKB and RDCK have web sites that contain information on waste reduction, recycling, composting, and the location and hours of operation of landfills and transfer stations. You will find the RDKB web site at and the RDCK web site at . The BC Recycling Hotline can be reached Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1-800-667-4321. The RDCK Recycling Helpline in Nelson is available Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 352-2412 or 1-800-268-7325. The RDKB Waste Reduction Office in Trail is available Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 368-0232 or 1-800-355-7352.

All columns archived here are copyright © 1999 by Michael Jessen, all rights reserved. If you wish to print an individual column for your own use, please do so. If you wish to publish any of the columns in either print or electronic format, please contact the author at toenail@netidea.com to arrange appropriate payment.