Blue Bag Recycling
In June 2008 residents of the Central Sub-region (Salmo, Ymir, Nelson, the North Shore, Balfour, Harrop-Procter, Ainsworth, Kaslo, Meadow Creek, and those living within Electoral Areas D, E, F, and G started using the Blue Bag program for recycling. The decision to move to a Blue Bag program was made only after considerable research and consideration into the various options currently available for improving the overall recycling system in these areas.
The benefits of the Blue Bag program are: convenience, simplicity, reduced contamination and increased diversion. Residents no longer need to sort their recyclable materials at their respective recycling depots. Recycling depots are equipped with a large bin for Blue Bags and/or one large bin for voluminous cardboard, and an igloo for glass. Residents provide their own Blue Bags. Acceptable Blue Bags are available for purchase at a number of local merchants,any brand name will be accepted.Another benefit of the Blue Bag program is the addition of curbside collection in the CIty of Nelson. Blue Bags are collected on the same day as household garbage for free (and there is no limit).
Most residents will agree that participating in the Blue Bag program is easy. Recyclables are simply collected together in a clear, blue-tinted, plastic bag (max. size 30”x 36” for residents outside of Nelson, or 26”x 38” for residents located within Nelson). Acceptable materials are: mixed paper, food and beverage cans, cardboard (small volumes, flattened, and max. size 24” x 36”), newspaper, and rigid food-grade plastics displaying the numbers 1-7. Styrofoam is not accepted.
Note that glass is not included in the Blue Bag program. In order to protect workers from broken glass this material must be taken separately to an appropriate return facility (if a deposit applies) or to an RDCK recycling depot.
Bagging recyclable materials maintains cleanliness and reduces contamination during the collection process. With the old system there were significant issues with contamination of loads (attributed to the improper sorting of materials into the respective bins or household garbage being deposited in the bin resulting in contaminating the entire bin of material). Typically self-sorting bins have higher contamination and when a bin/igloo becomes too contaminated with unacceptable materials, is it possible that the entire load will be landfilled. The Blue Bag system allows better control of contamination because Blue Bags that contain significant amounts of contamination are simply removed from the sorting line. This protects the overall quality of the rest of the materials being sent to markets and reduces the need to landfill material that would have otherwise been recycled. Residents can be assured that the Blue Bags received at the sorting plant in Castlegar are recycled and are not sent to a landfill.
Blue Bag programs increase diversion in two ways:
(1) it increases the amount of materials accepted, particularly plastics; and
(2) the system also increases participation rates, especially in areas where curbside collection is available. Participation rates with a recycling depot system are typically low, especially in areas where garbage is picked up but recycling is not.