The Thompson Recycling Centre is urging people to learn the rules of recycling, as the centre is seeing an increasingly large amount of garbage being thrown in the residential blue bins. Billie-Jo Thompson, manager of the Thompson Recycling Centre says about half of the recycling brought in by apartment buildings is garbage. “We get animal carcasses, animal hides, rotting fish, lots of diapers, grass clippings, unfortunately needles are common, too. It puts our employees in great danger because they’re handling these things. By the time it gets here there could be maggots rotting, there are so many problems associated with it.”
Along with these non-recyclables at the beginning of August workers found live ammunition. Thompson says she found shell casing and mentioned to her workers that she hoped there wasn’t any live ammunition, and her workers noted they found some, and picked them out. “That’s very dangerous. They could have been set off at any point. It probably had the potential to kill one of my employees if everything had lined up, and the right circumstances happened,” Thompson noted.
When objects like this are found, incident reports have to be filed, and a bio-hazards container is placed by the recycling belt, so workers can throw needles and other objects in there to dispose of them.
The Thompson Recycling Centre sees about 13 per cent of city material coming in getting contaminated. Thompson says it gets hard to concentrate on recycling when the six workers have to constantly be pulling out garbage. Around the province, the percentage for contaminated materials is five to seven per cent.
Thompson says they try to promote proper recycling to residents, but it hasn’t been working. “Sometimes we send out flyers, the City of Thompson puts information on their city website, as well as during warming months we’ll check the bins and see if we can see anything in it, and then we’ll put a notice on it, so trucks don’t pick it up. It’s trying to get the information out there, educating the public on what’s recyclable.” The centre also tries to focus on teaching children about recycling through tours every year, if schools ask them to stop by.
Items that are recyclable like oil containers and batteries can be brought into the centre, but cannot be put in the residential blue bins. Thompson noted a Dell computer battery went through the belt undetected and made its way to the hopper, which compresses the recycling, and ended up starting a fire.
Glass is another no-go for residential bins, but can be brought in to the centre. The centre fills multiple bins a week with glass that was put in residential bins, which ends up getting broken, and could cause an injury to one of the centre’s employees.
Residents have also been dropping off televisions, microwaves, and otherhousehold appliance, which Thompson says don’t belong at the recycling centre, but at the department of public works. “We have to take time out of our busy days to pass these objects along to public works. It takes away from what we’re supposed to be doing, and that’s not fair to us.”
Thompson hopes residents will begin to educate themselves on the proper objects that are supposed to be recycled, and use the blue bins correctly, so they can cut down on the amount of garbage per week, which is about 4,500 kilograms a week currently. “There’s no excuse for why there’s some of the things in the line. Sometimes there are accidents with kids pulling things out, or putting things in the recycling. That’s OK. It’s more of the more serious concerning things. We also ask people to wash out cans and milk jugs, too.”