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Problem recycling light bulbs in Salmon Arm part of bigger issue

Regional district rep agrees consumers have paid environmental fee so shouldn’t have to fund program
Blane Ready, holding a container of recyclable lightbulbs, is concerned about the current state of not having a place in Salmon Arm to recycle bulbs, especially those that are particularly harmful if they end up in the landfill. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Blane Ready has ideas about the state of light bulb recycling in Salmon Arm.

Ready contacted the Observer to express his concerns about the lack of a recycling depot for bulbs in the community.

He asked why, if Salmon Arm has a good-sized population (estimated currently at approximately 20,000), are residents expected to take bulbs to Enderby?

An Oct. 22 notice on the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s website stated that under the B.C. environment ministry’s recycling regulation, Product Care is the non-profit organization responsible for providing recycling solutions for post-consumer products including light bulbs.

“Product Care is actively seeking to restore recycling services for lights in Salmon Arm as soon as possible. In the interim, residents are encouraged to hold onto their used bulbs or take them to the nearest collection sites in Enderby and Chase, if necessary. The CSRD will update residents as soon as collection services resume,” stated the notice.

Ready pointed out that fluorescent tubes, especially, contain mercury and other heavy metals, so why would the chance for them to end up in the landfill be increased. He also asked, if the provincial government is not providing a recycling service, why are residents still being charged a recycling fee.

Prior to September of 2020, Home Hardware and Rona were collection spots for bulbs. They stopped and it was turned over to Prisa Lighting, which has since stopped, although Product Care still lists the business as the Salmon Arm depot.

Read more: Light bulb recycling no longer available in Salmon Arm

Read more: Improper waste disposal leaves Okanagan worker with serious injury

Ben Van Nostrand, team leader with the CSRD’s environmental health services, does not disagree with the concerns raised.

He said the CSRD is currently negotiating with Product Care to have an option for recycling bulbs at the landfill in Salmon Arm. The negotiations are focused on “what they will fund to offset the costs of us carrying out their program.”

He said it’s Product Care’s program and the CSRD is willing to participate, but the cost shouldn’t be on the backs of the taxpayers as they’ve already paid an environmental fee with the lights.

He said the fact that businesses are not willing to participate is an indication they aren’t being adequately compensated.

Van Nostrand termed it a long-standing issue with all the stewardship agencies, with the best one being for tires. Fewer and fewer places are available for recycling used paint and oil, he said.

“It falls on local governments to fill the gaps. I don’t want those products sneaking back into the landfill.”

Rural areas face the biggest problems, he said, because it’s more costly for the stewardship agencies to get those products back than in Greater Vancouver.

He said there’s a group of regional districts beyond Hope that continues to push the province to recognize the problems.

“If you buy a TV in Burns Lake, you should be able to haul it back to Burns Lake, not Prince George.”
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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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