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.
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.