The CVRD is auditing roadside recycling this month, as contamination is high. (Citizen file)

The CVRD is auditing roadside recycling this month, as contamination is high. (Citizen file)

Cowichan Valley Regional District auditing roadside recycling due to costly contamination

Many residents need recycling education

The Cowichan Valley Regional District is cracking down on curbside recycling contamination.

Plastic bags, Styrofoam containers and other non curbside recyclable materials that should not be placed in recycling totes add unnecessary costs to the service when placed by the road.

Much worse are items like broken glass, used diapers and lighters; all of which have been found in curbside recycling totes and pose health and safety hazards for CVRD staff.

To reduce contamination levels and help educate residents on which items need to be brought to regional recycling centres, CVRD staff will be conducting curbside recycling audits in certain areas of the Cowichan region through the month of August.

“With four CVRD recycling centres strategically located across the Cowichan region, there is ample opportunity for residents to recycle non curbside items in their respective drop-off depots,” said CVRD chairman Jon Lefebure.

“When banned items are placed in curbside recycling totes, it can result in entire loads of recyclables going to landfill as well as the region facing financial penalties, making recycling more expensive for everyone.”

The CVRD’s curbside recycling program is funded by Recycle BC.

Part of the conditions of the program is for the CVRD to maintain a three per cent or lower rate of unaccepted material.

Currently, at 15 per cent, the region has one of the highest contamination rates in the province, which means the CVRD could face steep financial penalties from Recycle BC moving forward.

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“The most effective way to reduce curbside contamination is through the tote-auditing process,” said Jason Adair, the CVRD’s superintendent of recycling and waste management.

RELATED: Recycling education in Cowichan Valley Regional District reducing contamination

“We hope residents who are unsure will visit our website or call us to lean more about which items are acceptable in their curbside totes. However, if our staff continue to find items that are not recyclable in curbside totes, we will be forced to stop picking up recycling from those homes.”

CVRD staff will be checking the contents of recycling totes for contaminants and leaving an “Oops” sticker indicating which items are not curbside recyclable.

The stickers will direct residents to the Recycling Hotline and CVRD website which provide valuable resources for learning how and where to recycle items.

If curbside recycling totes are overly contaminated, staff will not collect the tote material and will leave a sticker specifying why the tote was not emptied.

For more information, call the Recycling Hotline at 250-746-2540, or visit