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RDEK Removing Yellow Bins at Cranbrook Memorial Arena

After a request from Cranbrook City Council, the RDEK will be removing the yellow recycling bins near the Cranbrook Memorial Arena on May 29th, citing a number of concerns with the site.

Cranbrook City Council first expressed concern at their most recent meeting, asking for the RDEK to initiate removal of the bins.

Speaking to MyEastKootenayNow.com, Lee Pratt said most of the concerns stemmed from people dumpster diving and a few small fire incidents which were reported.

“The regional district goes there almost daily now to clean up the messes,” said the Cranbrook Mayor. “With the new recycling process we have at the Transfer Station, we felt that there was no longer a need for those yellow bins there.”

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The RDEK got the request, noting that they too were also worried about the yellow bins at the location.

“One of the primary issues at this site is safety as our drivers routinely encounter people inside the bins. In spite of repeated warnings and the drivers’ best efforts to check the bins, we are concerned about the potential for someone to get trapped in a bin as it is being dumped,” said Kevin Paterson, RDEK Environmental Services Manager. “In addition, we have had numerous and ongoing complaints as people routinely abuse the site by leaving recyclables and garbage in and around the bins, smashing glass in the parking lot and leaving the lids
open so recyclables blow into neighbouring properties. While we recognize that the bins are sometimes full, there is never an excuse to leave things on or around bins.”

Hoping to rectify some of the issues, the RDEK increased their pick up schedule at the site and also installed litter fencing behind the bins. The RDEK said staff would visit once a day between Monday and Friday to pick up litter.

“We have stressed to the public that if we aren’t responsible in how we use these bins, we may lose them and that is where we find ourselves today,” said Paterson.

The RDEK’s yellow recyling bins near the Cranbrook Memorial Arena. (Bradley Jones, MyEastKootenayNow.com staff)

The RDEK was successful in creating an approved Recycle BC Depot at the Cranbrook Transfer Station back in December 2019. There is a tangible difference between the RDEK’s yellow bin system and the new Recycle BC Depots.

“The yellow bins actually cost us money, we pay a lot more to get rid of the yellow bin material than when we receive in payment,” Pratt told MyEastKootenayNow.com. “The other bins, its all separated and we get paid different fees according to what we provide there.”

Under the yellow bin system, the recycling costs local government $321/tonne for all material, while the RDEK actually receives $120/tonne for the material collected at the Recycle BC Depot. By having residents shift from the yellow bins to the Recycle BC depots, the combined savings are $441/tonne.

The City of Cranbrook said about 200 tonnes of material passes through the yellow bins at the Memorial Arena alone, totalling about $64,000 in fees for the municipalities, and a lost revenue of $24,000 if that material instead goes to the Recycle BC Depot.

The RDEK said the Cranbrook Transfer Station accepts a wider range of items than the yellow bins systems. Some items only accepted at the Recycle BC Depot include styrofoam, #7 plastics, milk substitutes, aerosol cans, zippered bags, pet food bags, and more.

“While the Recycle BC Depot does require some sorting, the reality is, everything that currently is accepted in one yellow bin goes into one of two bins at the new depot. The rest of the bins on site are for new items that cannot go in the yellow bins. So, if people don’t want to access all the new recycling opportunities, it’s not that much different.” said Paterson.

The yellow bins system only accepts paper, cardboard, #1-6 plastics, tin and aluminum cans, as well as grocery and shopping bags.

The RDEK made it clear that only the yellow bins at the Memorial Arena are being removed, and that the other yellow bin locations in Cranbrook will remain operational as of this time.

Mayor Pratt believes the new Recycle BC Depot is a “pre-step” for Cranbrook to eventually get curbside recycling down the road.

“We’ve discussed curbside recycling for a couple of years now, we’ve been looking at the cost involved with it, we’ve been doing quite a bit of in-depth study into it. The one thing is, right now we’re not equipped to do curbside recycling,” said Pratt. “The big thing we’re looking at, as our garbage trucks get replaced, we’d be looking at mechanized trucks which could accommodate the curbside recycling.”

Pratt said the lack of appropriate equipment is the major hurdle on why Cranbrook won’t be getting curbside recycling for the foreseeable future.

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