Smithers rolls out recycling program

Almost 10 tonnes were collected over the first week of curbside recycling

The Town of Smithers rolled out its new recycling program last week, and though there were a few small hiccups, overall, the program has been a huge success.

Day one, on May 26 produced 1,970 kgs of material, which was fairly close to the week-long average. Volume peaked on Thursday with 2,200 kgs. Overall, the total for the first week of pickup was just under 10,000 kgs.

By comparison, the town averaged just over 2,000 kgs of garbage per day, for a weekly total of 12,310 kgs.

“The feedback I have received has been almost universally positive,” Mayor Taylor Bachrach said.

“I think people are really pumped to have the curbside recycling program up and running in Smithers and it was certainly fun to go up and down the streets and see all the blue bins out.”

Community curbside recycling educator Alexie Stephens said she was impressed with the results.

“I think it went really well,” Stephens said.

“Obviously you can see by the volume people are really keen on recycling. Initial weights far exceed any expectations we had about how much recycling residents would put out to the curb. I think this is a real testament as to the eagerness of residents to recycle.”

At the recycling depot, there were a few hitches processing the material, mainly due to an electrical issue with the baler on the first days of service. But the crews have caught up with the backlog and now expect the volume to trend down after the first two weeks of pickup.

“Those blue bins were out about three weeks early,” Smithers and Area Recycling Society president Earnie Harding said. “So I think people took to accumulating early, I would expect the volume to go down some.”

Once the material arrives at the recycling centre, it is crushed in a baler and packaged into one-tonne loads. Once they reach 20 tonnes, the materials are shipped to Surrey.

The only issue so far is with the amount of non-recyclable material residents are putting in the blue boxes.

“We’ve seen a lot of glass and a lot of different types of plastics, for example, garden hoses and garbage bags,” Harding said.

Stephens saw a few other issues.

“The things I have been noticing so far are soft plastics and Styrofoam,” Stephens said.

“Also, things like bottles and cans that are part of another stewardship program, need to be taken in to be recycled, or you can always contact a local charity and they can pick them up for you.”

Stephens will be in Smithers for the next five months, setting up shop at the farmers market and a few local businesses around town, to answer any questions residents might have.

The Village of Telkwa also signed on to have MMBC run their curbside recycling program but residents there, who have been recycling for years, will notice no difference in their service.

Ultimately, as part of the Multi-Materials British Columbia contract, Smithers and Telkwa need to get their contaminate rate of non-recyclable material to below three per cent, but Stephens expects there to be a grace period, while residents are learning what can and can’t be recycled.

“They probably won’t be checking for the first couple of loads,” Stephen said. “MMBC understands that this is a new program for a lot of places and they will allow some time for people to sort it out.”