A decision two years ago by Coquitlam council to consolidate its two recycling depots into one appears to have worked, according to the city.
Dumping of unacceptable materials, or dumping by non-residents or businesses, at the unstaffed Town Centre and Mariner depots had driven the operating costs for the two facilities to $500,000 annually, according to Jozsef Dioszeghy, the city's general manager of engineering and public works, in June 2017. He noted at that time that processing the recycled material at the depots worked out to approximately $800 per ton compared to the $50 per ton charged at the Coquitlam transfer station on United Boulevard by its operator, Wastech.
Although staff recommended closing both depots, the city decided instead in October 2018 to close the Mariner location and staff the Town Centre depot. That would enable the city to make sure depot visitors were Coquitlam residents and what they were dropping off was acceptable material.
Security cameras, improved lighting and more secure fencing were also added to the Town Centre depot. Those measures, said a recent report to council, helped the city catch the scofflaws doing the dumping. It noted in 2017, the city issued just four tickets for illegal dumping. But in 2018, 44 tickets were handed out.
Dioszeghy and Verne Kucy, the city's environmental projects manager, told city council Sept 9 that illegal dumping at the depot has been "effectively eliminated." According to their report, the operating costs in 2018 were 40% less than what it cost to run the two previously unstaffed depots.
"Significant reductions in extra labour and equipment costs related to the clean-up and removal of illegally dumped items at the depots were achieved," said their report. It also noted usage has dropped because many apartment and condo buildings have been providing recycling opportunities for their residents.
The city's records showed the Town Centre depot gets about 80 to 100 visitors a day on weekdays and 120 to 150 on weekends for a total of approximately 1,500 a month. About 85% live in single-family homes and 15% in multi-family housing.
In response to a question from Mayor Richard Stewart about how the city can expand the number of products it can recycle, Kucy said there are opportunities to do so but the challenge isn't getting any easier because the complexity of material being produced keeps increasing.
“We’re a consumer society," said Kucy. "I know we talk about zero waste, but we’re not running out of material."
– with file from Gary McKenna