Jordana Fridman (l) and Sonia Sandhu

Jordana Fridman (l) and Sonia Sandhu

Keeping danger out of landfills

Summer Ambassadors highlight some of the problems with recycling hazardous materials

When we think “recycling”, most people think of drink containers, cardboard, and printed material. There are many other materials that can – and should – be recycled, but which take more care, such as light bulbs, batteries, medication, oil, antifreeze, paint, tires, computers, and electronics.

Fortunately, there are several places in our communities which accept these hazardous items. This asummer two teams of Ambassadors, representing the B.C. Used Oil Management Association and Tire Stewardship B.C., have been travelling the province, raising public awareness in an attempt to keep many hazardous recyclable materials away from our landfills.

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, for example, shouldn’t just be thrown in the garbage if they’re no longer needed; they should be taken to an AlarmRecycle drop-off location, where they can be disposed of safely. It’s not just used oil and antifreeze that can be dropped off at designated centres; associated filters and containers should be taken there too. And did you know you can take your old cellphones to any TNRD library, to be recycled safely?

It is this sort of information that the Summer Ambassadors are spreading as they tour the province. They’re also getting feedback from both the public and from those who oversee drop-off locations, to ensure that more people know about what can be recycled, and signing up additional facilities. This will make it even easier for dangerous items to be kept out of our landfills.

The program is clearly working; last year Tire Stewardship B.C. oversaw the collection of the 16 millionth tire brought in for recycling in the province. It is not all smooth sailing, however, with after-hours drop-offs cited as a particular problem.

“People have good intentions, but they don’t always do it in a safe manner,” said Jordana Fridman, one of two Ambassadors to visit the area on Aug. 15. “They need to bring products in during business hours, so that a staff member can deal with them.”

“Dropping things off after hours – just leaving them outside – often defeats the purpose of recycling them,” added Sonia Sandhu. “Things can get knocked over, or taken, or wildlife can get into them. Staff know how to dispose of things properly.”

A wide variety of businesses and locations accept many of the items listed above, including Quality Glass, People’s Drug Mart, and the Bottle Depot (Ashcroft), Roadhouse Towing and Kal Tire (Cache Creek), and the Transfer Station in Clinton. All libraries in the TNRD system can take a wide variety of used batteries, in addition to cellphones. For more information about where and how to recycle various hazardous household items, there are websites such as www.lightrecycle.ca, www.alarmrecycle.ca, www.bcusedoil.com, and www.tirestewardshipbc.ca.

Barbara Roden