City asks residents to cut down contamination in curbside pick-up

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By News Editor Aislinn Cottell

The City of Nanaimo is asking residents to use more care when sorting their waste for the curbside pickup program. A warning letter was recently received from Multi Material BC (MMBC) (the province-wide organization currently paying the city to collect recycling) concerning contamination levels in the recycling being delivered.

Contamination levels have increased in the last several months, reaching as high as 14 percent, which is significantly above MMBC’s accepted three percent. Recycling with this level of contamination cannot be processed properly, and can cause entire loads to be landfilled.

“I think it is clear that there is some confusion about what does and does not go in the yellow bag,” said Charlotte Davis, Manager of Sanitation and Recycling for the city. “We want to clear up this confusion, and so residents will notice increased messaging from us about contamination. We have been advertising on the radio, in newsletters, and now we are doing some curbside inspections. We hope to speak with as many people as possible about what to put in the yellow bag. I would encourage residents to pick up the phone and call us or check out our website if they have any questions.”

MMBC can fine the City up to $120K per year if contamination rates are not reduced, and the City will begin undertaking inspections of curbside recycling in November. Residents who have placed unacceptable items in their yellow bag will receive a sticker upon pickup. Residents with properly sorted waste will receive a “good job” sticker. The recycling collector will begin to leave whole bags of recycling behind at residences that repeatedly include contaminants in their curbside recycling.

The most common types of contamination are plastic bags, Styrofoam, and glass; the City recommends residents take these materials to the local depot instead, where they will be recycled. Other items not accepted include books, electronics, chip bags, paint cans, batteries and textiles. The full list of items can be found on the City website at nanaimo.ca and any questions can be directed to the public works department at 250-754-4251.

VIU also offers some additional recycling services for students. Apart from the general recycling stations around campus, small amounts of Styrofoam and shrinkwrap (bagged separately) can be taken to the loading bay beside bldg. 300. This bin is kept locked, and a key must be acquired from VIU facilities for access. Batteries and cellphones will also be accepted at the Health & Safety Office (bldg. 360, rm. 112), the Welcome Centre, and the Library’s IT help desk.


Aislinn is a third year Bachelor of Arts and Science student majoring in creative writing and minoring in chemistry. New to The Nav team this year, she’s enjoying finding out about all the interesting things happening on campus. Her hobbies include reading, drawing, Netflix, and the copious consumption of coffee.