Region might halt curbside glass pickup

The curbside collection of glass in Greater Victoria could be halted.

The Capital Regional District environmental services committee is re-examining its glass pickup policy following submissions from local breweries and recycling centres.

Staff will compile a report before a final decision is reached, said CRD director Ryan Windsor. The CRD board will meet for further discussion Dec. 9.

Much of the glass tossed into blue box recycling containers could be returned for refund, said Windsor, Central Saanich’s mayor. Glass is typically recycled for road base or insulation.

If the curbside collection of glass is discontinued, citizens would be expected to return bottles to depots and other businesses providing refunds. Non-refundable glass containers, such as jars, would also be the responsibility of residents.

Windsor, a member of the CRD’s environment committee, said he supports the move to halt curbside glass collection, in part because a reduced service would save taxpayers money.

Discontinuing curbside collection of glass containers would result in a net savings to the CRD of about $100,000 annually, CRD staff say in a report to the environment committee. The CRD pays Emterra Environmental about $5 million a year for collection service.

But CRD director Geoff Young said it is unreasonable to expect people to return non-refundable glass to recycling depots.

“I don’t think people should be required to worry about trips to the depot when they buy a jar of pickles,” the Victoria councillor said.

Curbside collection across much of the province changed in May 2014, when industry group Multi-Material B.C. took over responsibility for managing residential recycling.

MMBC has sought to discontinue curbside glass collection in favour of having residents take containers to recycling depots, the staff report says. However, it has accepted curbside glass collection provided the glass is separated.

Prior to MMBC, the report says, the CRD took any refundable containers collected through the curbside program to local bottle depots to obtain the refund, with the revenues helping to support the collection program.

The processing is now done by Green by Nature, which has moved much of the work to the Lower Mainland, the report says. As a result, local bottle depots have lost the handling fees for managing the containers.

Darcy Hipwell, who owns three Bottle Depot centres in Greater Victoria, estimated that 10 per cent of all glass is going into blue boxes. Of that, two-thirds has deposit value.

Breweries can reuse returned bottles up to 13 times on average, Hipwell said. Returning bottles also generates money for local businesses and charities.

“It’s a very environmentally responsible practice. … Somebody should be getting that cash refund and keeping the money in the local economy.”

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