Improperly sorted recyclables cost city $250,000 annually (column)
London Community News
If someone asked you how you would like the City of London to spend $250,000, how would you respond? My guess is that there would be many creative and constructive ideas – each of which would likely enhance the quality of life in our city.
What we would not hear is, “I want to spend an extra quarter of a million dollars to pay people to manually sort recycling.”
Yet that is what is happening in the City of London each year.
In August 2011, London opened its Manning Drive Regional Material Recovery Facility (MRF). It is a regional facility that now processes Blue Box materials for London and six other area municipalities: Aylmer, Bayham, Central Elgin, Dutton-Dunwich, Malahide, and Thames Centre. These regional partnerships reduce London’s recycling costs and generate revenue for the municipalities.
This state of the art facility has a 75,000 tonnes per year capacity and is currently operating at approximately 31,000 tonnes. It has a high recovery rate: over 97 per cent of all materials it receives are sent to end-market mills to be further processed and manufactured into new products. This is great environmentally and economically for our entire region.
Miller Waste Systems is the company that processes our recycled materials at the MRF. The cost of this processing depends in part on the quality of Blue Box materials left at the curbside.
The city is charged additional processing fees when the percentage of unsorted recyclables combined with non-recyclables exceeds three per cent by weight. This additional fee is charged either because recyclables have been placed in the wrong “stream” (e.g., paper placed in with the containers or containers placed in with the paper) or non-recyclables have been placed in the Blue Box.
In both cases, the items have to be sorted and/or removed by hand. This can add up. It has already cost our city $190,000 this year and we’re on track to spend a total of $250,000 for improperly sorted materials in 2012.
Most London households, approximately 90 per cent, recycle on a regular basis. The vast majority of these households have taken the time to learn what can be recycled and what cannot and they sort their Blue Box material appropriately.
However, a small number of community members, through a lack of information or by oversight, are not yet sorting as required. For the month of August 2012 the level of unsorted plus non-recyclable delivered to the MRF was 5.8 per cent.
The bottom line? When recycling is not done right, it costs taxpayers extra. There is good information on the City of London website on how to sort your recyclables (visit: www.london.ca and search: “recycling and composting”).
Please take a moment to review this information to ensure that you’re with the majority of Londoners who’ve got recycling right.
Let’s reduce costs wherever we can so that more money is available for the programs and services we care about most.
Ward 7 Councillor Matt Brown can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 519-661-2500, ext. 4597 (city hall) or 226-448-8548 (home office). You can also link to his Facebook and Twitter accounts from www.matthewbrown.ca.