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City of Abbotsford hopes to reduce contaminated recycling

About 14% of items collected aren’t acceptable and can destroy a whole bin
The City of Abbotsford is urging residents to do their part to recycle correctly to avoid contamination. (City of Abbotsford photo)

The city is hoping to “significantly reduce” the amount of contaminated recycling it collects in Abbotsford by the end of October.

A press release issued on Monday (Jan. 16) indicates that, in Abbotsford, roughly 14 per cent of the items residents think they are recycling end up being unacceptable for curbside recycling, and are instead thrown away.

According to Recycle BC, almost 21,000 tonnes of recycling material collected across the province in 2020 was contaminated and sent to the landfill.

Mayor Ross Siemens said this not only leads to extra waste – mis-sorting items can contaminate a whole bin– but can also lead to complications and workplace hazards during the sorting process.

“While most residents in Abbotsford actively recycle, many don’t realize that some of the items they place in their blue bin end up contaminating the other items in there,” Siemens said.

The city is offering tips and enhanced service to teach residents how to properly sort and prepare items for recycling, the press release states.

City staff and “recycling ambassadors” will be available to help residents gain a better understanding of what goes in their curbside recycling, compost and garbage carts.

RELATED: Bear spray, bullets among hazards that have caused fires at B.C. recycling depots

They will also help residents determine what items can be dropped off for recycling or disposal and how to properly distinguish between commonly mis-sorted items.

“They will be out on garbage days, inspecting recycling bins at the curb and at community events throughout the year,” the release says.

Educational information will also be provided to residents in several ways, including the curbside collection calendar, utility notices, social media and more.

“By using tools like the city’s Waste Wizard and learning how to properly sort items and which items aren’t acceptable, residents can become better recyclers, which will in turn help to reduce our contamination rates and create a safer and more sustainable city,” Siemens said.

Abbotsford is part of the Recycle BC program, a non-profit organization responsible for the collection and recycling of residential packaging and paper products.

By participating in the program, the city receives incentive fees in exchange for collecting curbside recycling on their behalf.

Recycle BC also takes on the responsibility of selling recyclable commodities on the market and ensuring they are recycled responsibly.

“To continue participation in the program, Abbotsford must ensure recycling contamination is significantly decreased,” the press release states.

“Failure to meet this requirement may result in fines to the city, an increase in recycling fees for residents and the possibility of collection refusal and additional fines for offending residents.”

A waste-sorting guide, the city’s Waste Wizard and additional recycling information and resources can be found at

RELATED: B.C.’s blue box recycling system to accept more items, primarily single-use plastics

Abbotsford News Staff

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