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Oak Bay residents recycle soft-plastics for free

Residents can feel less guilty forgetting cloth bags with pilot program
Recycling bins in the Oak Bay Public Works Yard, pictured January 21, 2019. (Jesse Laufer / News Staff)

Unlike our next-door neighbours in Victoria, Oak Bay residents can still enjoy the convenience of plastic shopping bags – and now they can be recycled.

On Jan. 1 Recycle BC (RBC) rolled out a soft plastics recycling program to all affiliated communities. That means residents no longer need to travel to CRD facilities to properly dispose of plastic bags, zip locks, salad packaging, chip bags and other soft plastics. The Oak Bay Public Works Yard on 1771 Elgin Road can now handle such materials for free.

“This is a really exciting pilot program. It seeks to manage packaging that right now there’s no recycling solution anywhere in the world at this scale,” said RBC spokesperson David Lefebvre. “What makes this material challenging is that the majority of the material is made up layers of different types of plastic, and that it makes it diffcult.”

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Once collected, Lefebvre said the waste makes it’s way to Delta. There it is processed by a B.C. company called Merlin Plastics. Lefebvre said that the company is doing research and development work on sorting and reusing soft plastics.

“Any material that’s remaining after the testing happens we’re using to produce and engineer fuel,” Lefebvre said. “Wherever possible we’re trying to divert from the landfill.”

Lefebvre went on to say that the CRD has been ahead of the curve in adopting the new procedures. The Hartland depot began accepting soft plastics in June 2018 during an earlier pilot stage. Oak Bay did not participate in two earlier trials, which Yard Clerk Darryl Clark said was mostly due to space constraints.

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“We know right away that it was going to be mandatory,” Clark said. “They had always indicated that it was going to be a mandatory thing coming down the pipe.”

Public Works managed to fit in the new bin by replacing an older one that was redundant.

Oak Bay’s website has not yet been updated to reflect the changes – it still directs residents to CRD facilities for soft plastics – but Clark said an update is coming soon. In the meantime, residents can drop off their recycling at the Public Works yard between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. midweek, and between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

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