Keep styrofoam out of your garbage or pay the price

New regulations will take effect in Metro Vancouver on July 1

If you mix too much foam plastic packing with your garbage in Metro Vancouver, prepare to pay a price.

New regulations adopted by the regional district will soon double tipping fees at Lower Mainland disposal facilities when a load of trash is composed of more than 20 per cent expanded polystyrene packaging, commonly known as styrofoam, the material used to pack and distribute electronic devices and other products.

The surcharge, which takes effect July 1, will not apply to food and beverage containers, packing peanuts and any expanded polystyrene that has been painted, soiled or treated.

The regulations have not received much attention since they were approved by Metro directors last year, but the regional district is planning to publicize the change during the run-up to implementation.

Langley City councillor Rudy Storteboom, who represents the municipality on the Metro Vancouver board of directors, reported the impending change at a recent council meeting.

The goal is to get people to recycle white, unpainted expanded polystyrene which can be re-used to make new Styrofoam “or it can be recycled into products such as picture frames, crown moulding and fencing” Storteboom said.

Storteboom said residents can drop off expanded polystyrene free of charge at designated recycling depots, and businesses can send it for recycling at local facilities for a fee.

Metro disposal ban inspectors have been educating customers about the upcoming requirements since January.

The charge will be applied at Metro Vancouver and City of Vancouver transfer stations, the waste-to-energy facility and the Vancouver Landfill.

A Metro Vancouver report said expanded polystyrene represents one to two per cent of all garbage by weight in the region, with 10,500 tonnes dumped every year.

By volume, it is “one of the largest material categories in the waste stream without a disposal ban,” the report stated, and even with local recycling options, roughly 80 per cent ends up in landfills instead of being recycled.

At Metro Vancouver disposal facilities, loads are inspected for banned materials that can pose a risk to waste collection workers, the public, or the environment.

A $65 minimum surcharge, plus the potential cost of removal, clean-up or remediation is applied to loads containing banned hazardous and operational impact materials or product stewardship materials.

A surcharge of 50 per cent of the tipping fee on the entire load will be applied to loads containing banned recyclable materials.

Instead of disposing of those items in the garbage, banned recyclable materials can be dropped off for recycling – visit metrovancouverrecycles.org for a list of locations.

READ MORE: Trash haulers rail against proposed Metro Vancouver waste rules



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