Bottle Depots end soft plastic, styrofoam collection for recycling

Depot loses money on incentives for hard to recycle items

– This story was updated to include Greater Victoria locations which will continue to accept styrofoam, soft plastic and film/foil packaging.

Three of the busiest Bottle Depot locations in Greater Victoria will no longer collect soft plastic and styrofoam from the public as of May 13.

The managers of the Bottle Depots at Queens Avenue in Victoria, and at Quadra Street and Glanford Avenue in Saanich, are handing out fliers to forewarn regular users of the impending changes. They cite the decision as an economic one, saying there is too little of an incentive to cover the expenses of collecting materials such as styrofoam, soft plastic, foil and flexible packaging.

“We’re in favour of successful programs that work and we’d love to collect the product ourselves but it doesn’t work any longer,” said general manager Kelly Gorman of all three Bottle Depots.

It’s the fifth anniversary since the trio of Bottle Depots began collecting styrofoam and soft plastic. They added foil last year (chip wrappers). However, with 50 staff across three urban warehouse locations the incentives just didn’t add up to make the program sustainable, Gorman added.

“When you see the large bags of styrofoam that we collect, we only get $10 a bag for that,” Gorman said. “Considering labour and warehouse costs, as soon as our staff touch the [styrofoam] we’re losing money.”

Gorman expects patrons will be disappointed and is also concerned it will lead to a lower diversion rate at the Hartland Landfill, meaning more soft plastic and styrofoam in the ground.

READ MORE: From chip bags to dirty jars, tour Greater Victoria’s recycling processing plant

However, there are still eight locations in Greater Victoria that accept the non blue-box recycling materials. The first four of Island Return-It on Ellery Street in Esquimalt, the Hartland Recycling Depot, Island Return-It in Sidney and Oak Bay Public Works Recycling (for Oak Bay only), collect all blue box materials as well as soft plastic, styrofoam and foil.

London Drugs also collects plastic bags and overwrap, foam packaging, and other flexible plastics packaging (but not regular blue box materials) at Yates Street, Colwood, Quadra and Tillicum locations.

Recycle BC public affairs director David Lefebvre said Recycle BC has agreements with more than 210 independently managed depots across the province, many of which are independently managed and all receive the same incentive rates for the collection of materials.

“We periodically review the incentive rates associated with the collection of our materials,” Lefebvre said.

For instance, last year Recycle BC increased the incentive rate significantly for depots to collect film and foam materials, nearly tripling the rate for film up to $500 per tonne, and more than quadrupling the rate for foam, $800 per tonne, plus another $330 per tonne if baled, Lefebvre said.

But it’s a matter of having the infrastructure to handle the materials efficiently and the Bottle Depots are unable to at this moment, Gorman said.

In addition to refundables, the Bottle Depots continue to accept beverage containers, light bulbs, batteries, small electronics, and small appliances.

READ MORE: With 141,000 bottles, Spectrum students in recycling contest

Greater Victoria residents can also pay to recycle their goods with PMD Recycling (pmdrecycling.com/depot-locations/) which visits Vic High, Reynolds secondary, Belmont secondary, Carnarvon Park, and other locations one day per month.

PMD charge moderate fees to collect hard to recycle items such as film/foil, hard plastic, soft plastic, styrofoam, old electronics, old bike tubes, and more.

Recycle BC is also beginning a formal cost study this year that will include private depots across the province, Lefebvre added.

Though municipalities oversee the bi-weekly pick up of blue boxes, in B.C. residential recycling is managed and funded by companies that put plastic packaging and paper product into the marketplace.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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