British Columbia

Spring cleaning? Hold off on trips to the landfill during COVID-19 pandemic, officials say

B.C. residents spending extra time at home are getting a head start on spring cleaning, but officials are asking everyone to consider holding off on clothing donations and trips to the landfill for now.

Solid waste depots still open but many are not accepting cash and have new rules on what they will take

It's the busiest time of the year for landfills and transfer stations. But consider holding on to some items until the COVID-19 pandemic is over, officials say. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

B.C. residents spending extra time at home are getting a head start on spring cleaning, but officials are asking everyone to consider hold off on clothing donations and trips to the landfill for now. 

In Metro Vancouver, officials are asking people to store at home any dry recyclables and other waste that can wait.

"To keep staff and the public as safe as possible, consider delaying your visit unless absolutely necessary," the regional district said on its website.

Metro Vancouver solid waste facilities are also not accepting cash payment, and have several other restrictions on what they will take.

In Prince George, April and May tend to be the busiest months at the landfill as people clean out junk drawers and tackle home renovation projects, said Laura Zapotichny, manager of the waste diversion program for the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George.

Landfill and transfer stations remain open to the public with regular hours. Zapotichny says that access will depend somewhat on the public's cooperation to minimize strain on the service. 

What can wait?

Residents should follow some ground rules for donations and dumping during the COVID-19 pandemic — and ask themselves whether it can wait, she added. 

"We want people to be using our landfills sparingly," Zapotichny said.

"Really ask yourself if it's something that needs immediate disposal, or can it be disposed of later?"

This includes items like tires, or old fridges and freezers, she said. 

"Once we're through the COVID-19 situation we'll be able to accept and take a lot more of those products easier."

In March, the district saw an average 120 non-commercial vehicles coming to the landfill each day.

'Only come when necessary'

Zapotichny said people should think of visits to the landfill like visits to the grocery store during the pandemic.

That means reducing trips, distancing themselves from others and limiting cash transactions.

Residents are asked to bring debit or credit cards instead, and are limited to one person per bin to ensure physical distancing. 

Laura Zapotichny, manager of the waste diversion program for the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, says resident should take advantage of curbside collection for waste and recyclables this spring. (Recycle BC)

Zapotichny says residents should maximize their use of curbside collection for waste and recyclables this spring. Not all bottle depots in the province are open, she said, so it's also a good idea to call before you head out. 

Hygiene products like used tissues, sanitary wipes (including those labelled as compostable or flushable), face masks and gloves should be put in plastic bags before going into the garbage bin.

B.C. residents have been "really, really good" at following provincial health orders, Zapotichny said. 

Those practices should be kept in mind for spring cleaning as well, she said. 

"If people continue to follow those rules, bag their garbage, stay away from each other when they're at the facilities, get the waste into the bins, don't linger, only come when necessary, I think all of those things will contribute to our operations remaining open," she said. 

 

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