Mayor Ryan Bater said bringing the enforcement forward has been a year-long process that started with auditing the city’s curbside recycling program, which has been in place since 2013.
“Our service provider has indicated to us there’s been a lot of non-recyclable material going into the blue bins. And so we’ve been taking a closer look at that,” Bater said on Monday.
“We’ve done a lot of work to educate the public and to raise public awareness of what can and can’t go in the bins. But we’ve come to a point where… some members of the public are just ignoring that. And so we have to look at introducing fines as a way of enforcing the rules around recycling.”
The mayor said the most recent load — collected from May 25 to 28 — was rejected by Loraas Environmental Services Ltd.
“That load was sizable. It was 12.7 metric tonnes and it was full of clothing, food, compostable material like people’s lawn clippings, dirty diapers… and those are clearly not recyclable,” Bater said.
“When a load has too high of a volume of non-recyclable material, it’s considered a ‘spoiled load’ and it is baled and sent back to us and it goes into our landfill, which fills our landfill in a quicker rate than we’d like.”
The City of North Battleford said one contaminated blue bin has the potential to contaminate an entire truckload of recyclable material.
“The blue bins themselves are easy to read. Right on top of them, there’s pictographs showing what you can and can’t put in them… People are just ignoring the directives on the top of the bins, they’re just putting whatever they want in there,” Bater said.
“We’ve been educating people, but that’s not the issue. The issue is items that are clearly not recyclable, like dirt and grass and dead leaves and dirty diapers and spoiled food. There’s no question that those are not recyclable materials.”
The city said recyclables that are diverted from the landfill result in decreased operating costs and extend the current cell’s lifespan at its Waste Management Facility.
“We project right now at the current pace that we will have to replace our existing cell in 2028. And it’s going to cost taxpayers $2,000,000,” Bater said.
“We want to extend that as long as we can to get more life, but every time we have a spoiled load of recycling, it shortens the life of the current cell.”
Starting June 1, the city said it will enforce recycling rules to hold individuals accountable for contaminating the recyclable stream.
The fine for a first offence is $100, and goes up another $100 for the second and third offences. The city said infractions after the third offence could jump to $5,000.
“I think that we will receive tips because I’ve anecdotally had a lot of people indicate to me that they feel frustration seeing people in their neighbourhoods not adhering to the very clear directives around recycling but this will be more enforcement by the city itself,” Bater said.
“When we get a spoiled load, we know what neighbourhood it came from and so we’ll actually inspect the bins and those neighbourhoods and see who is filling their bin with non-recyclable material and then act accordingly.”
According to officials, the city solicitor will assist with enforcing any tickets that are not paid through the court.
“We hope we don’t have to enforce the objective is to see people recycling responsibly. We have a great program here and we’re very proud of it,” Bater said.
“It’s just unfortunate that some people ignore the rules around it and ignore what we’re trying to achieve as a community and, unfortunately, we have to look at enforcement in order to ensure compliance.”
People can use Recycle Coach from the city’s website to determine what materials belong in the blue recycle bin and which belong in the black trash bin.