Make it easy for people to recycle and they will.
That's the lesson to be learned from a survey of waste diversion rates published by Metro Vancouver that showed Port Moody and Port Coquitlam at the front of the pack when it comes to recycling.
PoMo houses have hit a 61% curbside diversion rate while Port Coquitlam is close behind with 59%.
Both these cities make recycling a no-brainer because they don't require residents to sort and separate their non food-waste recyclables into bags and blue boxes. Everything from glass to bottles, paper and cans can go into the large, sturdy bins provided by the city. Green and kitchen waste is picked up in similar bins, giving these two cities a leg up when it comes to recycling.
From the start, the blue box and bag system has been inadequate to the needs of even the most well-intentioned recyclers. Not only is separating items a hassle because it requires separate storage systems but the blue box - given out at a time when recycling was a novelty rather than a necessity - is completely inadequate for the amount of packaging, milk bottles and jars the average family collects in a week.
Coquitlam's green can system is a good effort to promote kitchen waste recycling and its citizens are no slouch when it comes to recycling. And the city's diversion rate is a respectable although not outstanding 52%.
But Coquitlam will have to do much better if it's going to reach Metro Vancouver's 70% waste diversion target by 2015. Some tough decisions will certainly have to be made - and soon.
Single-stream recycling is the way and while it's going to cost more than it does now to provide recycling bins to all householders - or extra recycling bins for free, as Port Moody does - the alternative could be even more costly.
Tipping fees are going up and paying the price for garbage will soon be prohibitive. As for the quaint blue box, it's high time to recycle this anachronism.