The Columbia Shuswap Regional District will now be landfilling drywall rather than stockpiling it for recycling. (File photo)

Asbestos concerns stop recycling of drywall

Once new policy is in place, regional district optimistic practice will resume

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) has been forced to make other plans for drywall coming to its landfills as its recycling service provider says they will no longer accept it.

A report from Ben Van Nostrand, the CSRD’s environmental health services team leader, was presented to the board of directors at their May 17 meeting. He reported that the recycling provider stopped their service due to concerns about asbestos, which was commonly used in drywall manufactured between the 1950s and ’80s.

The CSRD had recycled drywall rather than landfilling it since 2010. Initially, the drywall was shipped to a processing facility in Lake Country where it was recycled into new drywall. In 2013 the CSRD partnered with the North Okanagan and Okanagan-Similkameen regional districts to send drywall to a composting facility in Alberta.

“Accepting drywall at CSRD refuse disposal sites without procedures in place to ensure that drywall is asbestos free impacts the ability to recycle this material,” the report reads.

The CSRD put out a request for proposals in search of an option for recycling drywall within the CSRD but received no submissions.

Van Nostrand said work is already underway to find a solution which would allow drywall to be recycled again. The CSRD is working on updating the policies and procedures around drywall recycling and creating a new recycling program that mitigates risks associated with asbestos containing drywall.

He said once a plan is in place to sort drywall which may contain asbestos from that which does not, the drywall will be recycled again.

In the meantime, drywall, including that containing asbestos, will be landfilled at CSRD facilities. According to the report, depositing waste asbestos in a landfill is authorized by the Ministry of Environment, provided that the waste asbestos is immediately buried with a minimum of 0.5 metres of cover material. Waste asbestos is required to be confined during handling, storage and transportation to the receiving facility.

The report says existing stockpiles of drywall will be disposed of by landfill staff using techniques that minimize risk to workers.

New loads of drywall will be accepted at landfills with the mixed waste tipping fee applied to them.

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