It's been nearly a month since Strathcona County stopped accepting soft plastics for recycling.
The new regulations surrounding plastic came into effect on September 10. While there have been some challenges, it has gone better than expected according to Leah Seabrook, manager of waste management and community energy with the county.
"We really geared up to be there, ready for residents, to answer their questions and be available on the phone," Seabrook explained. "We actually found that, because we announced the changes in June and gave everybody the course of the summer, we felt like most people had gotten onboard by the time the September changes came."
Some of the items no longer accepted in the blue bags include plastic packaging, flexible plastics, styrofoam, glass or the nonrefundable Tetra Paks.
While conducting curbside audits of blue bag contents, County officials were pleasantly surprised with how many residents had received the message about the changes.
"It was probably about one in eight or one in ten homes that were being stickered," said Seabrook.
Though residents seem to mostly understand the restrictions when they apply to blue bags, there has been some residual confusion about what is and is not being accepted at the recycling depots.
"We do still have residents who need more education and clarification on what items are in and out. People thought the changes were just impacting their curbside program and didn't necessarily realize it affects all the recycling, so our depots as well. We're finding that people would still try to bring some of that material to the depots; so for now, we're trying to correct that and do more education that's kind of across the board for recycling."
While some residents are still getting the hang of things, most people have been quite receptive according to Seabrook.
"I think we saw a lot of the frustration in the beginning when we announced the changes. I do still think residents are frustrated that they're throwing more in the black cart, (but) I think a lot of residents are understanding that the changes are bigger than us and they're affecting a lot of municipalities in North America."
For the county's waste management program, the priority for the upcoming year is public education and exploration, as well as new methods to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
"We will be keeping an eye on how things are progressing and I think we'll find that there will be a lot more conversations around new technology and new processing domestically in Canada and North America," said Seabrook. "It's just going to take a little time, but I am optimistic that the industry is shifting and we will start to see some options pop up."


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