Transfer Station Report
~ by Jim Rosgen -
Malcolm Island has had bi-weekly garbage pickup now since June of 2011. While the closing of the dump has brought changes to our routines, the original mindset of “recycle, reuse, share” has continued on into the new system. Gone is the old “Upper Mall”, as the dump was aptly named, but it, and the old shed on 1st Street, have been replaced by the new recycling centre (now referred to as the “Lower Mall”) just off Kaleva Road and 2nd Street. One no longer needs to scrounge through the garbage in the rain for discarded treasures, but can come indoors to see what reusable items neighbours have outgrown or tired of.
To find out the details of how the transition was going, and how islanders have adapted, I started by contacting Patrick Donaghy at the Regional District to obtain current statistics on our local garbage situation. His ready cooperation simplified the information gathering process.
Starting with the basic garbage being sent to the 7 Mile landfill, Malcolm Islanders generated just over 163 tonnes of garbage, or an average of 223 kg of waste per person. In comparison, the average resident of RDMW generated nearly 600 kg per person. So we are running at less than 40% than the rest of the Regional District, a figure we can all be proud of.
In addition to the amount sent to landfill, we also diverted over 35 tonnes of recyclables which bypass the landfill and are recycled through the RDMW facilities. This is a very strong showing, given that the main source of recycled material, including cardboard, paper, and applicable plastics are primarily generated from the commercial sector in the larger communities. With our limited commercial sector we are dependent on individuals to provide this volume. The totals for Malcolm Island do not include metal recycling which, for us, is not done through the RDMW due to the costs associated with it. Money recovered from the scrap metal would not cover the costs of regularly taking it on the ferry to 7 Mile for processing.
Our recycling operation is run by the RDMW, under the management of Jodie Bjola, with assistance from Stephanie Rockman. In addition to the normal items taken for recycling, they also handle styrofoam, soft plastics, all of which need to be shipped south to Nanaimo for handling, as the land fillÂ will not take these. In discussions with the Regional District, they were very complimentary about the job being done by Jodi and Stephanie, and all the local residents.
Recycled materials shipped to the 7 Mile facility are well sorted and require very little additional handling on receipt. A large thank you and an acknowledgment goes out to all the original volunteers and recyclers on the island, who’s effortsÂ over the last 20 or so years have made the transition to the current incarnation a relatively easy one. Jodie asked that we specifically mention the previous efforts, as the new facility has been building on the hard work done over the years.
She advised that the handling of scrap metal here is unique, in that recovery costs are not enough to move it to 7 Mile on a regular basis. In this regard, arrangements have been made with Delwin Nelson to assist in dealing with it. Scrap metal, including old appliances, etc., is collected in a bin or on site at the recycling centre, and picked up by Delwin on a regular basis. She was very thankful to him for the service he is providing, and his willingness to accommodate the needs of the recycling centre on an ongoing basis.
In addition to the actual recycling, Jodie also runs an efficient operation for the reuse and repurposing of items dropped off at the centre. Items she thinks may be of use to other community members are held out for a period of time to see what other people can use. Things which fall between garbage and Thrift Store material would wind up in the landfill without her dedication. Apparently on any given day, 20 or more items are taken away again by people who can see a good use for them. She will ask for a small donation for such items, with the proceeds being used to cover the costs of shipping styrofoam and soft plastics down island to Nanaimo. For those of you going down island, you can get ferry fares paid by volunteering to take a full load of junk to the Nanaimo Recycling Centre.
Jodie’s final comment to me was that she wanted to thank the community members for their patience and hard work. She is constantly providing guidance to residents on the items accepted and the sorting of material at the centre. A list of recyclable items can be obtained at the centre. She appreciates the residents’ diligence in trying to keep all recycling streams in the appropriate bins, as cross contamination of materials causes tens of tonnes of recylable materials to be redirected to landfills across the country. It is an ongoing task, but the quality of the sorting done by residents improves constantly.
The next step in our garbage saga will be dictated by the Province. It is a program called Multi Material BC (MMBC). MMBC is a consortium of retailers and manufacturers who are pooling their efforts to divert over 70% of packaging from the landfills. While the details are still being worked out, it will generally provide curbside pickup of most recyclable materials. Full details are still being sorted out, and whether it will be a workable solution on Malcolm Island has not as yet been established. This program is tentatively scheduled for introduction in May of 2014, so stay tuned for further developments.
So to all our island residents, a thank you for a job well done, and keep up the good work.
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