Curb-side recycling sounds like it should be a no-brainer… so why isn’t it?

By David F. Rooney

Curb-side recycling. It sounds like it should be a no-brainer — and dead simple. But implementing it, Council was told on Tuesday, could prove to be a very smelly — and potentially expensive — process.

Darren Komonski, the City’s Public Works operations manager, outlined the dilemma in a memo presented to Council during its meeting as a Committee of the Whole (CoW) on Tuesday afternoon. He outlined four options for Revelstoke:

  1. The City could use its existing tandem refuse truck and collect garbage and recycled materials on alternate weeks. “The challenge this creates is that we are working towards achieving a Bear Smart Community Status and a number of residents do not have the capacity to store their garbage for two weeks in a secure location to prevent the refuse from becoming a bear attractant. When the City completes its program to deploy Bear Saver garbage cans this concern should be minimized.” However, at a cost of $164 a unit for 3,000 cans that program is nowhere near readiness. Komonoski also Council would have to consider whether the two-bag weekly limit should be increased to four bags every week. “This would have an impact on collection capacity,” he said in his memo.
  2. The City could purchase a “split container compactor for the existing truck and pickup recycling and garbage on the same day.” Komonoski said this is common practice in many municipalities. “The cost of purchasing the split container would be approximately $115,000 and is presently not in the financial plan,” he said.
  3. The City could also purchase an additional vehicle and collect recyclables on a separate day. However, the cost of the new vehicle would be about $275,000. It would create a new job and the overall cost of the truck plus new employee would be about $285,000 a year. There would be an additional cost to property owners of about $8 a month. Some of these costs could be offset by sale of recycled material on the market, however, even that is uncertain because no one knows what the tipping/storage costs would be for the recyclable materials. There is also no room for this in the current financial plan.
  4. The Columbia Shuswap Regional District could put out to tender the curb-side collection and recycling function. This owul dbe funded by a CSRD requisition from the ity which would be collected from residential property owners. “The advantage to the City of this option is that it obviates the need for us to become directly involved in a recycling program and all the associated logistical issues and costs. It may also provide an opportunity for local businesses,” Komonoski wrote.

All of these options would require residents to purchase recyclable bags or blue bin containers. However, neither of those containers are proof against the ravens, bears, coyotes, dogs, cats and other creatures that might be attracted to them. Wildlife-proof containers are available but are, as noted above, pricey.

Councillors took all of this in and asked a number of questions, especially Councillor Antoinette Halberstadt who opposed the fourth option because she thought curb-side recycling pickups and sorting should be a public service — not something that involves private enterprise.

Mayor David Raven noted, too, that one of the most common materials that people wold likely want to recycle — namely glass containers — cannot be picked up.

“This works out to about $100 a year (for each home) but doesn’t deal with glass,” he said.

Komonoski replied that “we don’t really mandate the rules.”

So. Is curb-side recycling dead in the water?

No. Komonski’s report was “received for information” and discussion of this issue will continue.