City’s Ambassadors Help Residents Sort It Right
Port Coquitlam, BC – March 23, 2021… Port Coquitlam’s Ambassadors are out again this spring reminding residents to put their waste in the right place and help divert waste from the landfill.
The City’s comprehensive Sort It Right campaign includes Ambassadors who help educate residents about bylaws and regulations and conduct audits of waste carts to address incorrect sorting, which results in more materials going to the landfill and could lead to increased costs that are ultimately passed on to taxpayers. Port Coquitlam has also designated March 21 to 27 as Sort it Right Week to draw attention to this important issue.
“We understand that sorting waste can be confusing and know our residents try hard to do the right thing,” Mayor Brad West said. “We see our residents as partners and encourage them to take advantage of the waste-sorting support and resources that we provide to ensure we’re providing our waste services as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.”
The curbside audits by Ambassadors over the last two years has been very successful in identifying and helping to resolve common problems including:
- Recycling carts contaminated with plastic bags, garbage, food waste, scrap metal, electronics and glass,
- Green carts contaminated with plastic bags and garbage, and
- Garbage carts contaminated with food waste, paper, recyclable plastics, electronics, scrap metal and glass.
Port Coquitlam households dispose of more than 15,110 tonnes of waste each year – about 34 per cent garbage, 18 per cent recycling and 48 per cent green waste.
Waste cart audits show it would be possible for households to cut their garbage by more than half and redirect it to their recycling or green carts, a recycling depot or a take-back program.
If problems are found with a cart:
- Tags are left on the carts to identify any sorting problems, and educational materials are offered.
- Pictures of the unacceptable items are included in a letter that is mailed to the resident as a followup to the tag. The letter provides information and resources to the City’s Sort it Right program as well contact information to have the Ambassadors provide coaching and support.
- Continuing problems will result in a warning letter with additional education. On the third occurrence, fines of up to $300 will be issued (discounted if paid within two weeks).
Why It’s Important to Sort it Right
Putting the wrong thing in a green and blue cart is the same as simply putting it into the garbage. The contents of contaminated green and blue carts are sent directly to the landfill, because hand-sorting is labour-intensive and would add too much cost to the process, which is funded by taxpayers.
Aside from the environmental benefits of sorting waste properly, significant money is at stake if sorting doesn’t improve. Low recycling contamination is critical because recyclables are sold as a commodity, yet Port Coquitlam consistently exceeds Recycle BC’s three per cent contamination cap.
If recycling sorting doesn’t improve, the City could be fined $5,000 for each contaminated load, up to a maximum of $150,000 for residential customers. Higher rates could also be charged by Metro Vancouver for ongoing mis-sorting of green waste and garbage. These extra costs would ultimately be passed on to taxpayers.
“Our hope is that people will take the opportunity to educate themselves, so that enforcement isn’t needed,” noted Cllr. Darrell Penner, Council’s designate for public works. “It’s critical we make progress on this issue to avoid costly fees and fines that will eventually affect all taxpayers.”
Recycle BC is responsible for curbside collection of residential packaging and paper recycling in B.C. The City is contracted by Recycle BC to provide curbside collection of clean uncontaminated material and undertake promotion and education.
The cart audit campaigns dovetail with Port Coquitlam’s Ambassador program, introduced in 2015 to educate residents about waste-sorting, water-use restrictions and bear safety.
The Ambassadors also provide helpful tips and reminders to residents through the City’s social media channels and App during Sort it Right Week, which runs until March 27.
For more information about the Ambassador program, to ask a question, or to request support or resources, visit portcoquitlam.ca/ambassadors. Residents can also email the Ambassadors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-927-5496.
Residents are encouraged to go to portcoquitlam.ca/sortitright for a wide variety of waste-sorting information and to use the Sort it Right! search tool to find out how to properly dispose of their waste. A mobile version of the search tool is also included in the City’s free Sort and Report app, which can be downloaded from that page and includes customizable collection schedules and alerts, and a problem-reporting function.
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Manager of Communications & Admin Services
City of Port Coquitlam
Tel 604.927.5335 Cel 604.218.0533