The City of Thompson announced Jan. 23 that it will be issuing fines for residents who fail to separate garbage from recyclables. A first offence is $168, the second offence is $336 – a hefty price to pay for complacency.
Donovan Parenteau, who has been working at the Thompson Recycling Centre for two years, is pleased to see the City of Thompson cracking down on improper waste disposal. In addition to maintaining high safety standards at the recycling centre, Parenteau and his coworkers are routinely exposed to biohazardous waste and other harmful items that are thrown into recycling bins.
“The first week when I started here I came across a box and a black bag,” he said. “Normally that’s garbage. But we always shake the bag … and it was heavy. So I opened it and there was a dead animal in there. I thought it was pieces of a moose or a duck. But it was a dead puppy. It was in the recycling. That was one of the horror stories.”
Parenteau is also exposed to cat litter and soiled diapers.
“There’ll be a big bag of baby diapers, as if someone threw their garbage in the recycling,” he explained. “There’s also needles and broken glass. The needles are mostly from diabetics. I got pricked by one and reported it to my foreman, and they immediately took me to the hospital. But that was quite a scare. The doctor said he wouldn’t know for a week or so if the needle was contaminated or not. But that scare of catching something just from doing my job [wasn’t good].”
Improper sorting of refuse has a big impact on the efficiency of the recycling centre.
“It also slows down the whole process,” Parenteau explains. “Normally we have to separate these items from the recyclables. That usually adds another half-hour or an hour when people throw garbage into recycling bins.”
Parenteau is calling on the community to take responsibility for their recycling.
“I think we should start educating the students and kids,” he said. “That’s the best place to start. The children. Then the children can teach the adults. All we want is for people to not throw food, diapers and other garbage into the recycling. We even have a glass depot out front here for the public to access.”