City audit finds 25% of green bins contaminated by non-compostables

Sounder News

Tuesday, September 1 2015

A recent audit of the City of Nanaimo’s green bins found almost one quarter of bins put out at the curb contain non-compostable materials. 

The “bin dip” found that the main things finding their way into the green bins that shouldn’t be there are plastic bags, food packaging and items that residents may think are compostable but actually aren’t. 

The good news was even though almost one quarter of the bins were contaminated, the actual amount of contamination compared to complaint materials was very small. 

The audit found that less than one per cent of the weight and less than one per cent of the volume of the material audited was composed of contaminants. 

This means, according to the City, that overall, residents are doing a very good job of separating organics from garbage. 

Jeff Ainge, Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) Zero Waste Coordinator, said, “It was nice to see that the City’s audit found green bin contamination levels to be quite low, and such a small amount of non-compliant materials in the green bin. 

“RDN staff do not currently have plans for a similar audit of green bins but what the City found likely represents what exists in the RDN collection system.”

The focus for the RDN this summer has been on the curbside recycling (blue box).

Ainge said, “We have just completed five weeks of field work checking over 4,000 sets of recycling placed at the curb for collection to gauge how residents are complying with the changes that came about in May 2014 with the implementation of the Province’s new packaging and printed paper stewardship program operated by Multi-Material BC (MMBC).

“We did find that plastic bags and Styrofoam are the main offending items put out with curbside recycling - both items MMBC accepts for recycling but only at their depots, not at the curb.

“RDN residents are great recyclers, however, changing established behaviours can be hard so our field work focused on providing encouragement to reward those good habits and remind residents of the changes to accepted materials.”