EDITORIAL – Quit whining about recycling and just get the job done

(Image: CFJC Today)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

WHY IS IT SO HARD to get the hang of recycling?

Kamloops residents — at least a certain percentage of them — simply aren’t stepping up on recycling and the City is hoping to change that. It’s a tough challenge.

The big problem is contamination of recycled materials. The most obvious is a failure to properly clean them — pizza boxes and pie plates, for example, or plastic and paper-based beverage containers that aren’t swished before they’re squished.

But there’s also the practice of mixing in materials that aren’t acceptable for recycling, with the stuff that is. Some folks apparently take a hopeful approach, hoping what they’re putting in recycling bins is OK, when it might not be.

According to a report from City staff, 72 per cent of recycling carts inspected last year were graded as “excellent,” with little to no contamination. Another 17 per cent were considered “good,” with some contamination.

The rest were fair or poor. That might seem not so bad, but the City was hit with $60,000 in penalties in 2022 by Recycle BC, the not-for-profit agency that oversees much of the recycling activity in the province. And that translates into more taxes.

That’s because Kamloops is supposed to hit a three-percent contamination target and has been managing just over 10.

I’ve heard people say they just don’t have time for recycling. They don’t have time to sort, they don’t have time to wash out containers, or flatten cardboard boxes, or separate recyclables from the household trash. Or, if they live where there’s no curbside pickup, no time to drive to the drop-off.

In other words, no time for the environment, no time for the economy, to keep stuff out of the landfill, to protect wildlife.

So, the City will up its game with more education and communication, new equipment and, yes, enforcement.

Should we need more education? Of course not. We just need to quit whining and do it.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, alternate TNRD director and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9489 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – Quit whining about recycling and just get the job done

  1. Stephen Griffiths // February 1, 2023 at 5:14 PM // Reply

    Very annoying that some act like recycling is a waste of their precious time and don’t bother to learn how to do it properly – including those who receive a notice they are recycling incorrectly, and decide to give up altogether and throw virtually everything in the garbage, recyclable or not.

  2. I think moving to two separate runs collecting recycling separate from garbage is a good idea because I have seen self-inflicted contamination (via the hopper flap left in one position) on a number of occasions.
    But remember this fundamental, supposedly little of what we think is going to recycling actually does. Hence arguably even if we had 100% compliance the net environmental benefits would be quite low, despite all the jazz…

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