Sunshine Coast marine plastics recycling site first of its kind in B.C.

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Beachcombers in the coastal community of Powell River, B.C., are used to finding plastic waste along the shoreline and now have a dedicated recycling depot where they can drop off such debris with a clean conscience.

On Oct. 26, the province’s first such site opened in the northern Sunshine Coast city. Located at Augusta Recyclers on Highway 101, the Ocean Plastic Depot is a place where people can drop off waste found in the water and along the shoreline, such as nets, ropes, buoys, and Styrofoam that would otherwise end up in the local landfill.

The project is funded by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the operation is a partnership between the qathet Regional District and a non-profit organization called the Ocean Legacy Foundation.

“We are able to divert upwards of 90 per cent of what we find on our shoreline cleanups for recycling,” said Abby McLennan, spokesperson for Let’s Talk Trash Team, a community-wide education program in the district.

Marine waste is challenging to recycle because it is often covered in salt which can corrode machines at processing facilities. (Instagram @theoceanlegacy)

She said the district has financed a shoreline cleanup every year since 2017 and it is a popular event with many locals taking part annually. 

The problem, she said, is often material that is collected from sea water is crusted with salt, which means most conventional recycling facilities will not take it because the salt will corrode their machines.

According to McLennan, landfill waste from Powell River is shipped to Washington state, so reducing the amount of overall waste is also desirable for the district.

Now, salt encrusted trash will be collected onsite and transported to the Ocean Legacy processing centre in Delta which is set up to sort and recycle it.

The Ocean Plastic Depot in Powell River, B.C., is located for now at Augusta Recyclers on Highway 101 and will be relocated to the region’s new Resource Recovery Centre, which is set to open in 2022, where it will live permanently. (Abby McLennan)

McLennan said the local depot location is ideal, because the area is home to many aquaculture farmers, primarily oyster farmers, who can drop off debris they would otherwise have to pay to dispose of.

A second depot is also in the works on the west coast of Vancouver Island in partnership with the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.

Located at ACRD Westcoast Landfill in Ucluelet, B.C., construction is already underway with plans to open to the public before the end of the year.

Access for the Powell River location is currently on a self-serve basis for registered users. To become a user, contact Let’s Talk Trash by email, info@letstalktrash.ca, or call 604-485-2260.

Tap here to listen to Abby McLennan share more details about the Ocean Plastic Depot on CBC’s On The Island.



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