Since switching to an automated garbage collection system last October, Regional District of Nanaimo residents were encouraged to repurpose or reuse the old waste containers.
The RDN attempted to hire a contractor to collect and transport the used containers but the request for expression failed to garner any interest. It left the RDN with no choice but to carry out the Used Waste Container Collection and Recycling Program themselves. The board in June approved a $60,000 budget but at end of the program, only $40,000 was spent.
The chair of the solid waste management select committee, Ben Geselbracht, commended staff for successfully completing the challenging initiative that helped divert the containers from ending up in the landfill.
“It was already an ambitious agenda so thank you very much for finding the time to execute this so well,” said Geselbracht at a committee meeting on Jan. 5.
Between Nov. 1-3 in 2020, residents who were not able to repurpose the old waste bins were given the option to drop them off free of charge at the used waste containers at either the RDN Church Road Transfer Station or at the RDN landfill in Nanaimo. Also between Nov. 17-28 residents were given the opportunity to set out their used waste containers for pickup at curbside.
According to RDN staff, the program was well-received, as there was a high rate of participation for both options. At conclusion of the program, the RDN collected more than 10,000 used containers.
The majority were redistributed back to the community throughout Vancouver Island. They were repurposed for things like storage for emergency kits, road salt, tools, potting soil, mulch, yard waste, animal feed, storage for depot items such as film plastics, glass, Styrofoam or refundables, rain barrels and DYI root vegetable planters.
The program was also able to provide approximately 700 used recycling/composting containers free of charge to the School District 68 (Nanaimo-Ladysmith). It was extended to neighbouring Comox Valley and Cowichan Valley school districts to bolster their zero waste education programs. The program also supported the RDN-sponsored zero waste education that is in line with the provincial curriculum within Schools Districts 68 and 69.
Cowichan Tribes also took 1,200 waste and garbage container that were distributed in the community as a way to increase participation in their waste diversion programs.
Approximately 400 damaged containers were sent to local recycling processors where they were baled and shipped to Merlin Plastics in Richmond to be recycled.