City wants a lid put on recycling

By the end of July, any recycling bins or blue boxes left at the curb without a lid in Chilliwack won't be collected.

The City of Chilliwack is phasing out open recycling bins.

The City of Chilliwack is phasing out open recycling bins.

Bright orange stickers are being slapped on recycling bins across Chilliwack.

The stickers are warnings. They are little warning notices about the need for lids on open containers.

They’re part of a phased-in plan to help prevent recyclables from ending up in lodged in an adjacent hedge, or rolling down the street.

Chilliwack residents will have to act if they spot an orange sticker on their bin as they will only get two notices explaining the requirement to cover their open-topped recycling containers.

By the end of July, any recycling bins or blue boxes left at the curb without a lid, will eventually be left uncollected.

Because of a growing number of complaints, city officials will start enforcing the lid (or bag) requirement this summer.

A “significant” number of calls came in over the past winter about recyclable materials and paper blowing around in the wind due to open-topped containers.

The lid thing is not new. City of Chilliwack has had a policy in place requiring closed containers for recyclables for a while, explained Mayor Sharon Gaetz at the council meeting.

That means either a container with a lid, or a clear bag or blue bag for the recycling. There is no specification for what type of containers or lids.

Coun. Lum said he was one of the people who recently received an orange sticker on his recycling container.

But he said he found it a little ironic to be encouraging people to recycle, by using bags they have to buy.

“I hope people will get creative, without having to incur more costs,” said Lum, after he said he was retrofitting his lid-less container with a lid made from plywood and a handle.

The open bins can also attract wildlife and collect rain.

There were also complaints into city hall about bins and lids being tossed to the side, which end up migrating down the street or back alley.

So city reps say they’ve worked closely with the city’s garbage contractor, Emterra, on a phased-in approach to solving the challenges they’re having, said Mayor Gaetz.

Every Chilliwack household will get two warnings first, before the Emterra employees will refuse to collect the materials. That point is still several weeks away.

At the same time, Emterra staff are being asked to gingerly return garbage/recycling containers  to the curb, and to avoid throwing them. The lids are to go back on the containers or beside them. They are encouraging a gentler approach. But failing that the waste hauler could be fined, and there will be more audits of contractor performance by city reps.

“I think this will make people, in the neighbourhoods where this has been a problem, very happy,” Gaetz added.