The horror of having to separate our recycling

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
July 26, 2017 - 5:00am Updated: July 26, 2017 - 3:03pm

KAMLOOPS — Imagine, if you will, a household recycling bin. We all have them, right?

We take a pop can and toss it into the bin, because we can return them and get some money back.

Now, imagine a second bin. We take a plastic shopping bag (we shouldn’t use them, but we all do) and toss it in.

Two separate bins. It’s called separation of recyclables. Yet that second bin has a lot of people in a lather. The City of Kamloops no longer accepts plastic bags with mixed recycling, and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District will soon follow suit.

To hear them complain — and that includes, by the way, at least two of my fellow CFJC Today columnists — you’d think City of Kamloops residents have just had their first-born child ripped from their loving arms.

What, may I ask, is so horrendous about having to separate our recycling? Plastic bags and glass will still be accepted, but they can’t be mixed in with everything else. Oh, the horror.

And the common reaction? ‘I’ll show you, then; I’ll just throw my plastic bags into the garbage! So there!’

And maybe go out in the garden and eat worms, too.

What these folks don’t understand is that by separating their plastic bags they will, in effect, be getting money back — though not directly as with pop cans — because it will prevent an increase in recycling costs.

Plastic bags gum up automated recycling machines, meaning more people have to be hired to un-jam them, and that means a surcharge to local government. Which costs everybody more money.

Remove the bags from the stream and take them to a depot and — problem solved.

When residential recycling first became a big deal, we were used to separating our stuff into all sorts of different bins. Single-stream recycling has spoiled us, but we’re heading back toward the older way of doing things for very practical reasons.

If we really give a damn about the environment, we’ll have to get used to it.