The staff report that went to New West Council on April 4 recommended abandoning the curbside sort that has kept materials separate. Under the old curbside sort system, materials are collected in good condition and they can be sold for top dollar on the commodities market.
The rationale for abandoning this sensible practice is the assumption that more is always better.
Residents recycle more material, studies have found when they don't have to think. The New West staff report also reported that there would be more "contamination" of materials collected if the city switched to single-stream collection. But it drew the questionable conclusion that higher quantity outweighs the lower quality of the materials.
In a last minute presentation to Council, New West resident (and coordinator of the North Shore recycling program) made the case for keeping the curbside sort, but his advice was ignored. This week papers across the region are chalking up a victory for dumbed-down recycling.
In the recession of 2008 when the bottom fell out of the recycling market, municipalities with single-stream recycling were hardest hit. They were stuck with their huge piles of paper mixed with glass shards and messy yogurt cups, while cities that could offer clean streams of materials that had never been "contaminated" found ready buyers.
Canada's leading recycling magazine reported that single stream recycling is feeding markets in China, while starving our domestic recycling industry.
Wake up, New Westminster! Once a single-stream system is in place, it's a race to the bottom. The quality of the materials is set by the worst performing residents, and the efforts of those ov you who take the trouble to handle materials carefully are in vain. New West residents who want to do good recycling won't have any choice.
New West Councillor Jonathan Cote opined: "If you make it simple, more people will do it." Does he speak for you? Here's where to reach him: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pic: Oregon Metro pays price for single stream recycling