“A new era in recycling has arrived in British Columbia — an era that promises to bring some exciting new changes.”
This was the opening line of an Earth Day press release from the Overwaitea Food Group, which operates Save-on-Foods (one of the larger grocery chains in B.C.) to launch its new “Changes Recycling Centres.” Currently, four centres operate in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) and more are planned to open before the year’s end.
The fully automated centres are activated when customers return their empty beverage containers, milk jugs and other recyclables. Like something out of Star Trek, recyclables are sucked through an elaborate maze of large glass tubes to compactors at the back of the store. The material is then sent to a recovery facility where it’s separated, baled and shipped to market.
Partners in the initiative include Dairyworld Foods and Lever Ponds, which both contribute service fees toward the program. The centres accept 95 per cent of Lever Ponds packaging and Dairyworld’s plastic milk jugs.
“These brand owners take full life-cycle responsibility for the products they sell,” says Eldon Brown, manager of operations for the Changes Recycling Centres.
While some critics say that Dairyworld’s involvement is just a ploy to avoid deposits, others trust that if this voluntary initiative does not achieve high recovery rates, deposits on milk containers in B.C. will be imminent.
Asked why the Overwaitea Food Group has decided to get into the recycling business, Brown replies, “Because of deposit legislation we have been in the recycling business for 25 years. Consumers prefer to return products to where they’ve been purchased. What we have done at Changes Recycling Centres recognizes this fact and at the same time addresses concerns that retailers have about using their storage space as bottle depots.”