Recycling Crisis Hits Bowen Island

Crisis Hits Bowen Island Recycling Depot - Picture from Salish Sea Blog

Crisis Hits Bowen Island Recycling Depot - Picture from Salish Sea Blog

I just talked to my mom on the phone.

“Emily! It’s really bad over here – there is a recycling crisis! There are signs all over the depot telling people not to bring their plastic recyclables in because there is no one to take them. It’s awful.”

I guess the financial crisis is hitting more then just pocket books. The price of plastics has dropped significantly since October, and now the market recyclables is close to non-existent. Across Canada the prices for plastics and aluminum are one-tenth of September prices.

“We’ve never seen a crisis like this before – there have been fluctuations, but nothing like this,” said Pierre Lemoine, a spokesman for TIRU, the sorting company that receives the majority of recycled materials from the Island of Montreal’s recycling-collection programs….

The turmoil in the auto industry is impacting the value of steel and aluminum, and the demand for plastic packaging has dropped with consumer spending. The Hook has written an awesome article on the root of the problem.

“The effect the economy is having on recycling programs shows the interrelations between different markets,” said Dave Griffiths, the director of Waste and Recycling Services in Calgary

On Bowen Island, Bill Carr from the Bowen Island Recycling Depot (B.I.R.D) is

“… asking, please could you hold onto the plastics, in your garage or at home or whatever until the situation changes and we can again start passing along the plastics we collect

We can stockpile at home, but for the Islanders that are willing to come into “town” (i.e. Vancouver) there is an alternative. Pacific Mobile Depots is a company based out of Victoria that has recently expanded it’s “mobile community recycling depots” to Vancouver.

They set up in the theater parking lot at Chesterfield and 3rd Street in North Vancouver. 9am -12pm on the third Saturday of the month. They do charge, but you could drop off all your family’s monthly plastic recycling for about $10 – when I went in the summer it would have cost half of that.

Not many smiling recyclers out there any more!

Not many smiling recyclers out there any more!

They have a long list of accepted materials that you can check out here.

Most important: they are still taking the low grade plastics (#3-7) that most depots are simply refusing to take because the market prices have dropped so drastically. They’ll also take electronics – always handy to know with holiday presents approaching.

Another alternative is to simply reduce your recyclables – buy bulk, avoid packaging, bring your own bag, re-use stuff – you know the deal! The Recycling Council of BC also has some great resources.

Originally posted at


1 Comment

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One response to “Recycling Crisis Hits Bowen Island

  1. We definitely need more businesses like this one to turn waste into opportunity Terra Cycle uses old plastic soda bottles as the packaging for their organic compost and fertilizer products!

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