What happens after you drop off your recycling at the depot? FAQ.
After you put your yoghurt container in the plastic tote at the Depot - assisted by our lovely and knowledgeable staff and volunteers - where does your recycling go? Most of the collected materials are baled by the staff and our Depot Manager, Grant, hauls it to a sorting plant in Victoria. From there it is shipped to processing plants to prepare it for its next incarnation. Provincial guide lines encourage Recycle BC to process as much as possible as close to the source as possible. 75% of what you put in the totes is processed in the Pacific Northwest (a vast improvement since the program started in 2014 when just 33% was processed locally). The majority of what is left is processed in North America with a small portion shipped off shore (mostly tetra packs and styrofoam). 98% of what you put in totes is recycled. That’s not bad.
But how much of what is produced gets recycled (recovery rate)? That depends on the material. Virtually all of the glass is collected. 95% of paper products are collected, 73% of metal, 60% of rigid plastic and 23% of flexible plastic. In their 4 year plan, Recycle BC sets a goal for recovery. The government then proposes improvements for the next year (ie. they are expected to collect 73% of rigid plastic by 2025 - up from 60% in 2022.
What does the container you brought back to the depot get made into? We are lucky in BC to have one of the world leaders in plastic recycling - Merlin Plastics - in New Westminster. They sort, pelletize and mix pellets into the proportions a particular client wants. Recycled plastics are in new containers, plant pots, yoga mats, clothing, toys and building materials. Similarly, glass is recycled into other glass containers, fibreglass, construction materials and sand blasting materials. Metals are turned into sheet metal and then any product that would be made from new metal. Your recycled paper is turned into paper towels, toilet paper, newspapers, egg cartons, grocery bags and greeting cards. Government regulations about including recycled materials in everyday products could be a huge boon to recovering the costs for recycling.
Who pays for recycling in BC? Recycling is not cheap. The program we are a part of pays $66 per household per year for recycling the 40.5kg produced per household. In BC we have what is called “Extended Producer Responsibility”. This means that the companies that sell the materials are responsible for the cost of recycling. They are charged per kg for each material they sell. For example, styrofoam costs the seller $2.82/kg. Paper for magazines costs $0.25/kg. These producer fees are adjusted yearly to account for changes in the costs of the recycling. The total cost of the recycling program in BC is $135 million. (Because we are a small community and lack the efficiencies of scale, the MI Recycling Depot also receives funding from the CRD outside the Recycle BC program.)
- Kim Harris
100,000 Beers, Super Sacks, and More!
If you like numbers and recycling this column is for you: Mayne Island recycling totals for 2023!
The Mayne Island Recycling Society (MIRS) closely tracks the volume of common materials collected at the depot. We say volume because GFL Environmental, the business that picks up our non-deposit materials, tallies materials by bale or “super sack” (those white sacks you see at the depot) rather than by weight. Wherever possible we compact materials into bales in order to minimize transportation costs. Deposits are different. We estimate the number of uncrushed beer cans, pop cans, tetra packs, etc. that fit into a super sack.
In 2023, MIRS shipped 175 bales of mixed cardboard and paper, 88 bales of mixed containers (plastics and metal), and 46 bales of flexible plastics (bags), 32 super sacks of glass bottles and jars, 42 large bags of foam packaging, and 18 super sacks of coloured foam packaging. That’s a lot of material recycled in our small community!
But what about deposits you ask. Did Mayne Island really consume 100,000 beers in 2023? The answer is yes. In total, the depot received an estimated 92,160 beer cans and 10,560 beer bottles, for a total of 102,720 empty beer vessels. Keep in mind this includes cider cans and bottles, and is an underestimate as it does not account for cans and bottles returned by businesses and individuals to off island facilities.
The total estimated number of other deposits received at the depot in 2023 are shown in the list below.
Estimated Total in 2023
Wine and hard liquor (glass): 38,400
Non-alcoholic bottles: 7,760
Pop cans: 92,160
Plastic drink containers: 34,000
Drink boxes under 500 ml: 2,880
Drink boxes over 1L: 6,400
Gable top bottles under 1L: 800
Gable top bottles over 1L: 3,600
Plastic liquor bottles: 400
You can learn more about where your recycling goes on our website under “What Happens to the Items We Recycle”.
Remember, wherever possible, please seek out products with less packaging and please drink responsibly.
Well, here we are – summer is behind us and the cooler, hopefully wetter, months of autumn are ahead. As you will already have noticed if you showed up at the depot on Wednesday, we are closed on Wednesdays for the fall, winter and spring. Many people have voiced their appreciation of the depot being open for that one extra day to bring in your recycling. We will be meeting as a board at the end of September to evaluate the Wednesday opening. I suspect it will be reinstated next summer. But some of the comments made to depot staff indicated that Wednesday/Saturday openings as opposed to the current Friday/Saturday openings might be a better pattern (prior to Covid, the depot was open Wed/Sat – some new residents might not know this). I am sure that this will be a topic for discussion at the board meeting so if you have any thoughts on this, please express these ideas to the depot staff or by email to email@example.com so we have an idea of how you, our patrons, might like to see the depot become more efficient.
And the Rethinking contest has come to a close. We have some very good ideas to consider and will be doing so at the board meeting as well. Winners will be announced and contacted soon. It was very interesting to get some informal thoughts from depot patrons as the contest was explained. A common theme was that many of the people, most who are retired, found thinking to be quite painful, and Rethinking would be downright excruciating. These responses, I am quite sure, were meant to be a jocular response to a simple task (I could see myself responding in a like manner if I was the one
being asked to Rethink a concept). That being said, some of the responses that were actually written and submitted blew me away. Some among us had thoughts that could, and maybe should, take recycling to the next level.
I was fortunate enough to have attended the Conservancy fundraiser where Dr. David Suzuki spoke very eloquently about the state of the world in terms of the direction the human race is taking. There were many brilliant points made but the one that stuck with me the most was his observations that we acquire so much ‘stuff’ that we obviously feel we need when we buy it, but ultimately don’t really need so it is discarded. Guilty as charged – my wife would most certainly attest to this. How do we curb our buying patterns? Even Dr. Suzuki did not have the answer to this conundrum but I felt that all in the room agreed that something must be done.
And in closing – SORT, SORT, SORT. Throughout the summer it became very obvious that the sorters amongst us were in and out of the depot in no time flat; the ‘jam-it-all-into-a-garbage-bag’ folks, not so much. See you at the depot.
- Richard Jarco
Re-visiting the B.Y.O.C. (Bring Your Own Containers) Project
In 2019 the Mayne Island Recycling Society spearheaded an environmental project with the community called the B.Y.O.C Campaign. Twenty island families took up the challenge to greatly reduce the amount of single-use plastics and disposable containers used over a 60-day period. Items such as plastic bags, plastic beverage cups and lids, plastic straws, plastic take out containers, and plastic cutlery were targeted. It was a very successful experiment! It was estimated that 2,680 plastic containers were averted from landfill by this group of 20 households during the 2-month campaign. As well, overall awareness by the community of the need to reduce single-use plastic was achieved.
Unfortunately we lost some ground when Covid restrictions came into effect. Not much we could do about that at the time. However, as many of these restrictions have now ended, perhaps now is a good time to re-visit the challenge and put renewed effort into cutting down on our consumption of single-use plastic.
Some of the recommendations to avoid use of these throw-away plastics are fairly obvious — bring your own reusable grocery bags when shopping, use mesh or cloth bags for produce rather than plastic bags, and carry personal travel mugs for take-out coffee and beverages. Some further suggestions are: bring your own containers for take-out food and restaurant left overs where possible; refuse plastic straws, lids and cutlery; use food storage containers for leftovers at home rather than using cling wrap plastic; where possible resist buying merchandise with excess packaging; frequent the local farmstands for fresh produce where there are no plastic bags; and try re-usable cloth gift bags rather than disposable gift wrap.
In situations where we haven’t been able to avoid single-use plastic, perhaps we could start a respectful dialogue to see if some alternate solutions can be found. A little discussion and some thinking outside the box can be the breakthrough.
There are no doubt countless other ways to help us ‘kick the plastic habit’. Why not take up the challenge to see how many plastic containers you’re able to avoid each week! Let us know about any tricks you’ve learned on reducing the amount of packaging consumed, by sharing your experience with us on our Mayne Island Recycling Society Facebook page.
- Lynda Smyth
The more observant recyclers will have noted the new dance craze that has overtaken the recycling depot, “The milk jug two-step”. It goes to the tune of the Stompin’ Tom Connors classic whose lyrics run: “You may think it’s goofy, but the man in the moon is a Newfie.” If you’re not a fan of Stompin’ Tom don’t worry, the milk jug two-step is adaptable. You can hum your own tune, lead with either foot, step lightly or with weight, though you should probably wear shoes. The goals are threefold, to have fun, get a little leg exercise, and to flatten the dairy and dairy substitute containers so that we can fit more per bag and earn a bigger return.
For those who don’t dance, or have two left feet, don’t despair, just imagine that milk jug is the head of your worst—but let’s not go there. Instead, here’s more good news: it’s not only milk and milk substitutes, but the four and nine litre water jugs that need flattening. Forget the beer and pop cans, the small plastic water and juice bottles. They can be left as is. And do not, repeat do not, do the milk jug two-step on glass bottles, though by all means dance on those bag-in-a-box numbers. It all has to do with volume and return. Every drink container carries a ten-cent deposit, whether it’s a tiny juice carton the kids take for lunch, a gallon water jug, or a two-litre box of Burrard Inlet Low Tide Malbec.
If you’re not as light on your feet as you once were then get a partner and turn the milk jug two-step into a waltz or romantic little slow dance. And it does not have to be a partner your own age. Remember that small children love to jump up and down, alone or in groups. It’s an excellent way for them to burn off that excess energy. Just be sure to remove the caps from the container, otherwise it’ll be like stomping a soccer ball and very hard on the knees.
To save time, you should do the milk jug two-step at home. However, should the desire to dance overtake you while at the depot then go for it. A little light entertainment is always welcome in the workplace, though it’s probably best not to close your eyes after the fashion of a whirling dervish or indulge too many ballet leaps or Cossack kicks, for we wouldn’t want you to get run over by some anti-dance curmudgeon or someone desperate to escape all that aggravating joie de vivre. To encourage the milk jug two-step, we will be widening the departure lane and remind depot patrons to park as far to the right as possible to give the performers room to kick up their heels.
So, all you hip hoppers, quick steppers, jitter buggers, cake walkers, can canners, twisters, fruggers, jivers, bunny hoppers, disco queens, fox trotters and funky chicken enthusiasts, let the spirit take you and dance.
- Grant Buday
On May 25 the Recycling Society held its AGM. 2021/22 was another successful year for the MIRS. We continued to fulfill our mandate to safely provide a comprehensive recycling service to the island. Our staff and volunteers worked hard to provide a friendly and well-organized experience for those visiting the Depot, and islanders continued to make good use of the facility, including supporting it through memberships.
This year is one of transition, with a number of long-standing Board members deciding to retire. We will greatly miss the contributions of Vicki Turay, Deb Foote, Lynda Smyth and John Shayler. We are excited to see a number of excellent new members elected to the Board, and we look forward to their contributions in the future: Sean Tucker, Michael Jones, Kathy Kaiser and Richard Jarco.
The Depot continued to operate safely and efficiently through the year, with no incidents reported. We continue to upgrade our safety and housekeeping inspections under the guidance of Bill Warning and Grant Buday. Covid led to many changes in Depot Operations, but islanders have adapted well to the changes with only moderate grumbling (LOL).
Our volunteers are an integral part of the society, although the role has changed somewhat due to Covid limitations. We are in the process of getting volunteers reengaged in actual recycling work. A volunteer survey indicated generally very positive feedback. Thanks to everyone who volunteers, and we are always looking for new people who would like to join the crew!
In 2021/22 we put extra effort into our communications. We want to keep islanders informed in a timely manner on recycling developments, as well as helping to educate the community on the topic. We developed a new web site: www.maynerecycles.ca – check it out. We created out own Facebook page, and finally we engaged a Communications Coordinator to keep all these shiny new tools up to date and looking good. We have already seen a significant increase in traffic through these sites as a result.
This year we decided to accept “non-packaging plastic” at the depot. There is no funding available for the costs of doing this, so we request a financial contribution from those who can afford to do so to offset these costs. The alternative would be to see the material end up in Hartland landfill, but through this program the material is recycled into useful products.
We are anticipating heavy traffic at the depot this summer, and are implementing plans to minimize the lineups as much as possible. You can do your part by careful pre-sorting before coming to the depot, and trying to take no more than ten minutes max to complete the task.
I would like to thank all the staff, volunteers, and depot users for their contributions to a successful year, and we look forward to continuing to serve the community and reduce our collective environmental footprint in 2022.
- Don Eadie
Recycling Depot is now accepting non-packaging plastics!
Spring is now in full swing, and perhaps you are engaging in the ancient ritual of Spring Cleaning or generally tidying up your house and yard. Possibly you have encountered items such as the kids plastic beach ball, or that broken Adirondack chair that Uncle Joe sat on a bit too heavily last summer? Perhaps you are wondering what to do with this inconvenient detritus of our consumer society?
So, the big question is: Does the Mayne Island Recycling Depot accept such articles?
And the answer is: no, and YES!
To explain this conundrum, it is necessary to have a brief glance into the byzantine world of how recycling is funded in BC. As far as plastics is concerned, ONLY plastics used in packaging are funded for recycling under the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs that are the key for all recycling in BC. Perhaps that will change in the future, but it is not on the horizon at the moment.
So, in accepting non-packaging plastics at the Depot, the Recycling Society has to absorb the full cost of collecting, sorting, baling and transporting these items. However we do not want to see these items ending up in the landfill, as may often happen today.
So, the Recycling Board has taken the decision that we will now accept non-packaging plastics (within reason and our ability to store the materials, at the Depot Managers discretion), BUT we respectfully request that these be accompanied by a financial donation. Your generosity will help us to cover the costs of this service. However no beach ball will be turned away due to financial inability to make such a donation!
We are fortunate that we are able to send these non-packaging plastics to Merlin Plastics in Vancouver. Merlin have been a pioneer in plastics recycling for many years, and will ensure Uncle Joe’s Adirondack chair will be recycled into something useful, for example plastic decking.
We hope that this initiative will help further reduce the island’s ecological footprint.
The Fourth R
As every woke person knows, the three Rs of recycling: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, should include a fourth: Repair. Reduce, repair, reuse, recycle.
Case in point. Recently the brakes on our forklift weakened. As it was long overdue for a check-up, I contacted a thirteen-star Victoria firm that promptly sent a specialist, a man renowned in his field. He examined the patient for about seven minutes and declared it terminal. It’s not just the brakes, he said, but the fact that it’s just too old. You should, he whispered, with a suitable show of professional gravitas, prepare for the worst. We stood there, heads bowed, and mourned. Then he brightened and said that his “people” had an excellent machine we could have for the low low price of ten thousand dollars, including shipping. I thanked him and said I would be in touch.
When he was gone, I took the opportunity to have a last moment with the patient. What times we had known! What loads we had lifted! Surely this could not be it? Loyal, loving, unwilling to give up hope, I got a second opinion. This new specialist diagnosed low oil and brake fluid levels. He gave it a transfusion and tightened some screws. The patient was reborn.
Admittedly, some things are not designed to be repaired, such as beer cans. Recently I went over a bumpy section of road on a certain small island and one of my newly purchased tall boys bounced up off the seat and hit the floor of the truck and got punctured. Envision a pinwheel shooting beer foam as you drive. I pulled over and threw myself onto the patient, pressing my thumb on the hole, a first responder compressing a carotid artery. One handed, I tried peeling off a length of duct tape to patch the hole. This proved challenging. I gnawed the edge of the tape with my teeth to no avail. There was only one recourse—drink the remainder of the beer.
As I drove home, belching discretely, I thought how the truck’s beery bouquet was not altogether unpleasant. But what if a cop stopped me? This had in fact occurred only weeks before on the Pat Bay Highway. I was given a list of repairs to address. My shipping straps were old, my tires bald, there was inadequate signage, one of my reflectors was gone, and the truck just looked past its prime.
“Maybe you should consider a new vehicle?” this guardian of the highway suggested.
I thanked deeply him for his sage advice. Then got a second opinion. A little rust removal, some fresh paint, new straps, new tires. Voila! Now men gaze in envy while woman grow dewy eyed at the glory that is the recycling truck.
But you ask, what has this to do with microwaves and toasters? How do I fix a 72 inch plasma screen TV? Duct tape? Three-quarter-inch putty? These items, you remind me, are designed to be discarded. Too true. And furthermore, you say, don’t be so ludicrously naive as to suggest that we fix the system. Ha! No, at this point you’ve no choice but to move on down the line to the final R: recycle.
- Grant Buday