Dumped items at CSWM Depot in 2019

Proposed CSWM Depot Closures

The CSWM Considers Closing Four Unstaffed Recycle Depots due to Misuse and High Costs

The CSWM Board is considering the phase out of four unstaffed recycling depots within the service area, including the Campbell River Sportsplex, Strathcona Gardens Recreation Complex, the Canex Store, and the Courtenay Country Market. The two remaining CSWM depots (Quadra Island and Oyster River) will remain open as they are rural and provide the only local option for recycling in those areas. The 12 Recycle BC Depots throughout the CSWM area as well as the extensive municipal curbside recycling services will be unaffected by these changes.

“A major consideration in our recommendation to close these CSWM depots is that there are excellent alternative options for recycling in our communities,” said Andrew McGifford, Senior Manager of Comox Strathcona Waste Management Services. “These four unstaffed depots are all reasonably close to Recycle BC Return-It depots, which means residents bringing their recyclables from rural areas have multiple Recycle BC locations to access, that accept even more recyclable materials than the CSWM depots.”

These Recycle BC supported locations include Return-It depots at 1580 Willow St., Campbell River; 493 Puntledge Road, Courtenay; 678 Anderton Road. Comox; as well as the Campbell River and Comox Valley Waste Management Centres.

Residents within municipal boundaries have even more options for recycling thanks to curbside collection. Through previous customer surveys, the CSWM learned that the vast majority of users of the CSWM depots live within municipal boundaries and have access to full, unlimited curbside recycling collection, which includes all of the same materials accepted at the existing CSWM depots.

The depots under consideration for closure experience a high level of contamination of otherwise recyclable materials. Of the approximately 1,800 tonnes of material collected from the CSWM depots in 2018, 18 per cent was contaminated with garbage, including household and commercial garbage, furniture, lightbulbs, appliances, yard waste, dog feces, fish guts, motor oil and paint. This high level of contamination not only means that a large portion of otherwise recyclable materials can no longer be recycled and ends up in the landfill, but it also creates a safety issue for people who use the site and the staff that have to manage the contaminated waste. More frequent pickups at these facilities will not solve the problem of high levels of contamination.

Large unacceptable items contaminating the Canex Store CSWM Depot in Comox. Photos taken in 2019.

While the unstaffed CSWM depots do not accept glass, plastic bags, outer wrap or foam packaging, these items can all be sorted at the Return-It depots and both waste management centres in the region. Not only do these locations accept more streams of recyclable materials as part of the Recycle BC program, normal practice is for monitoring to occur during the recycling process. Staff are present to observe and correct sorting errors, and educate the public. By using these programs, residents ensure that their material is actually recycled and will therefore be diverting a larger volume of material than if continuing to use the CSWM depots. For depot locations near you visit:   www.cswm.ca/recycling/recycling-depots-hours.

“The recycling markets are changing, and there’s a greater importance of clean, properly sorted product,” said Andrew. “With so much contamination at these depots, they can’t continue to be operated without major changes and significant costs.”

Continuing to operate all six of the services depots would have resulted in an increase of $265,000 annually, totaling $575,000 for maintaining the facilities at their current level. Annual costs could increase to $825,000 if the depots undergo changes to improve use of the sites including: reduced hours of operation to daytime hours only; improved fencing, paving, lighting, security; and full-time staff for all open hours of operation.

Staff will be bringing a report forward to the CSWM Board in January with additional information related to the possible closure of the unstaffed depots before making a decision on this matter. This report will address alternative recycling options, plans to inform and support residents through this transition away from unstaffed depots, and the possible impact on the other staffed depots that will now handle increased volumes.

Yard waste contaminating bin at the Oyster River CSWM depot, taken in 2019. 


Soft plastics contaminating the Canex Store CSWM depot in Comox, taken in 2019.

Contaminated bins at the Courtenay Country Market CSWM depot, taken in 2019.
CSWM Depot Update Staff Report - November 14, 2019