Chris Beach, former owner of the Burns Lake Return-It Recycling Depot re-purchased the facility on Aug. 28. (Blair McBride photo)

Chris Beach buys back recycling depot

The Burns Lake recycling depot has changed hands back to its original owner.

Chris Beach re-purchased the Burns Lake Return-It Recycling Depot on Aug. 28, as he told Lakes District News.

“We have brought back our two longtime staff members and we will be actively trying to add more recycling programs on an ongoing basis when the opportunities arise, just as we did previously when we ran the depot,” Beach said.

The ownership move is the latest in a series of changes to recycling in Burns Lake this year.

The Return-It Depot reduced its intake of recyclable materials on June 15 after it ended its contract with Recycle BC.

READ MORE: Depot to curtail recycling in June

Four days later, the recycling services previously offered at the depot became available at the Burns Lake Transfer Station, following the signing of a contract between Recycle BC and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN).

LOOK BACK: Transfer Station becomes new recycling depot

That contract lasts until 2023, said Curtis Helgesen, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) with the RDBN.

The RDBN’s recycling facility was originally estimated to cost around $175,000 to build, and construction is ongoing.

Contracts with Recycle BC run for five years. They can be terminated before then if proper notice is given.

The Vancouver-based non-profit confirmed that Beach has requested to sign a new recycling contract for the depot, said spokesperson David Lefebvre.

All such requests are subject to an assessment process but Lefebvre couldn’t provide a timeline for it.

“We prioritize expressions of interest in our program based first and foremost on which communities would most immediately benefit. As part of our assessment, we look at a number of variables and how these relate to each other, including but not limited to local population, the volume of material generated in a given area, any potential impacts to other depots, and the logistics associated with servicing another depot,” Lefebvre explained.

“A second contract with Recycle BC in the Lakes District would be a step in the right direction because one isn’t enough for this area,” Beach said.

In the meantime, Beach said the depot’s recycling will function under a provincial stewardship program and recycled materials will eventually be made into clothing, park benches and beverage containers.

He also hopes that dairy product containers will be added to the beverage deposit return system in the near future.

“This in itself will keep a lot of milk cartons, yogurt bottles, etc. out of the local waste stream. Some estimates are that this will increase the beverage container recovery rates by as much as 30 per cent,” Beach said.

Since recycling moved to the transfer station in June, some residents have been concerned that the extra distance to the Babine Road site would discourage people from recycling and spur them to throw out their recyclable materials.

However, the public works crew with the Village of Burns Lake hasn’t noticed a difference in the volume of garbage.

“We deliver two loads to the landfill site per week for residential and one load per week for commercial. We do not have a mechanism that allows us to weigh each load,” said CAO Sheryl Worthing.

Recycle BC has agreements with more 200 depots across the province. Once an agreement is signed, the organization pays the depot for the recyclable materials, which are taken away to a processing facility.

Pay rates for residential recycling are calculated by tonne, with depots getting $80 per tonne for paper and cardboard, $500 per tonne for plastic bags and overwrap and $800 per tonne for foam packaging, among other types of recycling. Payments are higher if the depot bales up the materials.

The depot is subject to some conditions such as having appropriate infrastructure – like collection containers – to manage recyclable materials and hiring staff to interact with the public.

Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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