Recycling program offers alternative to landfill

People wishing to reduce their environmental footprints now have another option.

People wishing to reduce their environmental footprints now have another option with the advent of a small appliance recycling program in British Columbia.

As of Oct. 1, retailers were required to start collecting recycling fees on a wide range of small household electrical appliances, both plug-in and battery-operated. Fees range from 25 cents for a tiny plug-in chemical air freshener to $10 for a large countertop microwave oven.

The fee will pay for the recycling of the product at the end of its life. Used items can be dropped of at the Trail Bottle Depot on Rossland Avenue during regular business hours.

“It is unbelievable – there are about 120 new products that come under the new stewardship regulations,” said Alan Stanley, director of environmental services for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary. “They are really rolling these stewardship programs out.”

Stanley expects that the recycling of microwave ovens through the program will have the biggest impact on landfill operations.

“You know how it is these days, you can buy them for $100 at Walmart, but it costs $150 to fix them.”

The Canadian Electrical Stewardship Association estimates that two million small appliances a year are going to the province’s landfills.

“All these things add up and the number of items now covered by stewardship programs is getting really significant,” Stanley said.

“The question is, ‘Are these programs being used?’

“We are continually pushing the industries that run them to do good measurements. What we want is for them to do waste composition studies at landfills to see how much of their products are actually being snuck into the landfills in containers and bags.

“Because the ultimate goal is to get them out of our landfills.”

Some of the small electrical items that show up in private vehicles, as opposed to the bottom of a commercial garbage truck, have been going into a bin at the landfill, and then are sent to scrape-metal dealer Columbia Recycle located in Columbia Gardens.

“We are still surprised how much scrap metal we still get, given there is scrap metal yard not far away,” Stanley said. “If you have things like copper and aluminum, they will actually pay you for it but people still come and pay us to put it in the bin.”

More details on what is and is not accepted for recycling are available at available on the program’s website (unpluggedrecycling.ca).