DC Recycling owner Jeremy Parslow says recycling contamination has been an issue since curbside recycling began in Mile Zero three years ago.
Most recently, March 17 discoveries of hypodermic needles and garbage in recycling bins is nothing new, Parslow adds. He says the issue dates back to 2018, when curbside recycling was initiated by the City of Dawson Creek.
“We carefully pick through loads and make sure that we don’t ship any needles,” said Parslow. The needles were likely used for insulin, drugs, and steroids, posing a health threat to anyone potential coming into contact, he added.
“It’s a variety, some were insulin, some were of course drugs, you could tell. These ones had HGH bottles, human growth hormones, so steroid users, obviously,” says Parslow. “But you never like to see any of them, regardless of what they’ve been using them for.”
He adds the bins would benefit immensely from a monitoring system, noting installing cameras on the collection trucks is one possible solution.
“We’re just the processors. (The city) created it, and kind of ignored the monitoring part of it. They never really established any way to monitor the bins,” Parslow says of the curbside program.
Last September, a group of youth dubbed the “Trash Pandas” monitored bins on the city’s behalf, in partnership with the Obair Economic Society. Parslow says the initiative curbed contamination by roughly ten percent.
Northbound, Recycle It Resource Recovery is coming up against similar contamination issues, with needles, deer carcasses, gold fish, food waste, and more found in Fort St John bins, says general manager Lindsay Heal.
“We’re seeing a lot of garbage, a lot of cat litter, just bags of garbage,” says Heal. “As we come into the spring and summer months, the dog poop, and the grass, the leaves and such are going to start up again. That’s when the issues really start up again.”
Auditing ends in September, and starts back up in spring when the weather is good. Any contaminated bins are dumped into the local landfill.
She adds a high tech solution is also being sought, and plans to meet with the City of Fort St John’s Public Works department next week to discuss the possibility of installing cameras on collection trucks to flag contamination in real time.
Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News