Every second Monday evening, I put my blue box on the curb of my Langford home.
Mostly I recycle a few plastic milk jugs, some cardboard and newspapers. I also find it very convenient to put all my refundable cans and bottles in the blue box too.
By the time I get into my car Tuesday morning to head to work, I see my once neatly sorted blue box and accompanying cloth bag have been ransacked.
My recycling is no longer sorted and often my bag of newspaper and cardboard has been dumped on the ground and the bag taken, along with my cans and bottles.
Last time this happened a medium-sized plastic tub was taken as well, probably to carry my bottles away. How frustrating.
I worry the blue box collection staff will think I am the one leaving the mess and think I am not respecting them. I don’t want to come home with a bright orange sticker of shame stuck to my box.
This past recycling day, I decided to withhold my bottles. I didn’t want to wake up to my recycling strewn all over. I also thought, why should I be rewarding people who steal my cloth bags and tub?
Before I started writing this, I didn’t care that my bottles were going to someone else. I was just upset about the mess and other missing items.
But now, I do want my cans and bottles to be picked up by the recycling truck. After speaking to Capital Regional District communications coordinator Monique Booth, I learned the money earned from recyclables covers some of the cost for the blue box program. The other portion is contributed through tipping fees at Hartland Landfill.
In other places in Canada, such as Calgary, Alta., residents have to foot the bill for the blue box program out of their own pockets.
I really like the regional blue box program and want to support it.
The CRD contracts out the job to pickup the blue boxes. Part of its contractual obligations is to have the maximum amount of recyclables collected. To ensure this the CRD passed a bylaw stating no one can remove any item from a blue box or bag unless they are with the CRD or the owner of the recycling.
People who unlawfully take these items are called “scavengers” by the CRD.
The contractors pick up about 600 blue boxes daily. It is also their obligation to leave the area around the blue boxes clean. So if a scavenger makes a mess, the contractor must clean it up, adding to the workers’ already busy day.
I could put the recycling out in the morning, but that just adds more stress to my chaotic day. It’s tough getting a toddler ready in the morning as well as myself.
If you have scavengers at your blue box, the CRD says it’s best not to approach them, but to call the CRD recycling hotline at 250-360-3030.
—Charla Huber is a reporter with the Gazette.