Bags are on the outs. Bins are in.
Less than two weeks to go before single-use recycling bags for curbside collection customers in Chilliwack are phased out for good.
The deadline for switching to recycling containers is Aug. 31.
Part of the problem is that bags were getting tangled in the sorting machinery, said Tara Friesen, manager of Environmental Services, at the last city council meeting.
That unintended consequence can cause equipment shut-downs and contamination.
“The debagging process is labour intensive and introduces health and safety issues since only a portion of the bags can be removed mechanically and many bags need to be opened and emptied manually,” according to the staff report to council.
The other reason is that single-use bags are not environmentally friendly, the way reusable containers are.
But either way, the current phase-out of blue/clear bags was required by Recycle BC, as part of its funding agreement with City of Chilliwack.
Waste contractor Emterra Environmental has been delivering the new 120L recycling containers, which are royal blue, to each curbside household in the past month.
The one exception for the continued use of bags is for shredded paper, to keep it together, Friesen said.
Unlike the situation with compostables, where residents must use the green bin only, when it comes to recycling, they have more choices. They can use their own lidded bin with a ‘We Recycle’ sticker on the side. The stickers are free and can be picked up at city hall.
Any bins put out at the curb have to be 120L capacity with handles.
“We’ve used a variety of tools to let folks know about the changes,” Friesen said, such as the survey last year, educational materials, newspaper ads, a survey, and an info booth at the mall.
At this point bags will continue to be collected until the end of the month, she said.
“The agreement requires bags to be phased out by September.”
There will still be no limit on how much recycling gets put out to the curb, Mayor Sharon Gaetz reminded everyone in chambers.
The program still keeps glass, clothing and books, out of recycling.
Coun. Sam Waddington asked if there were any future plans to include apartment buildings in the recycling.
“Do we have a timeline on that?” he asked.
FVRD officials have been working on a regional strategy, Friesen said.
Coun. Ken Popove wanted to know if there was any discussion about bring glass back into the curbside recycling, but that is not on the horizon at this point.