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Bylaw change means Kamloops residents recycling wrong may be fined $100

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If you're throwing trash, couches, wood or other things that don't belong in your recycling, you may get dinged $100.

Kamloops council passed a bylaw amendment today allowing city bylaw officers to fine people $100 who are throwing the wrong things in their curbside recycling. City administration recommended the move as it struggles to get the city's recycling contamination down.

Recycle BC expects participating municipalities to hit a contamination level of three per cent or lower. Kamloops, which joined the program in 2017, is sitting just under 16 per cent, according to a city report. As such it could face fines itself, starting at $5,000 and maxing out at $20,000.

The city's civic operations director Jen Fretz explained to council the fine is to give bylaw a new tool to get people to pay attention to what goes into their bins and carts.

"We've been very lucky so far, we haven't had any fines (from Recycle BC)," Fretz explained to council. "But I think they're done giving us warnings."

"Recycle BC is expecting us to be issuing fines as part of that reduction effort."

The fines are expected to be used in limited amounts, maybe five or 10 times a month, Fretz says, and aren't a revenue-generating tool.

"This is more about having done the best we possibly could (educating the public)," she explained. "And not getting the results we need."

The two main causes of loads being considered contaminated are when the load has material that's not recyclable through the Recycle BC program and when materials are fully contained in a bag or container of some sort. People sorting material don't open closed bags.

One part of the issue is material people think should be recyclable through curbside pickup, but isn't, like with recent changes to glass. The issue has been dubbed "wishcycling."

Fretz says that's where the education campaign was trying to make ground.

"In most cases people think 'Oh goodness I didn't know,'" she says. "But this is for situations where it's ongoing and ongoing and ongoing. We've left letters and we've left notifications and they just are not changing their habits."

The city has an app for recycling, which will help people determine whether something goes with curbside recycling, into the garbage, to the landfill or to another location.

While city council voted unanimously to support the bylaw amendment, because of how bylaws work it needs to be approved again by council at next week's meeting before it's in effect.


Brendan Kergin

About the Author: Brendan Kergin

Brendan Kergin is a digital reporter based in Kamloops.
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