There is a new building up at the Lillooet and Area B Solid Waste Management Facility and it holds the Squamish Lillooet Regional District's (SLRD) new recycling equipment.
Although the 60' x 60' building has been completed since the summer, the baler that compresses the recyclables has only been running for a few weeks.
"It's not officially done; we're still working out the kinks. There are still a few things left to do in the building so we haven't had the official grand opening," said Jesse Lee, Environmental Utilities Technician for the SLRD, who oversaw the building of the facility.
It's basically a one-man operation run by Rick Hjerpe of Mohawk Contracting. There are new green recycling bins located on site for residents to use for their sorted recyclables. Hjerpe dumps these green bins on the floor of the building for sorting and then feeds the recyclables into the baler. The baler is self-operating for everything except cardboard which, because of its bulk, may need a bit of help from Hjerpe.
The baler is quick. A bale of paper, which will weight 1500 pounds, takes no longer than three quarters of an hour to process. The SLRD uses a broker in Vernon to sell these bales for a top price.
Although it is not completely done, the SLRD is asking people to bring up their recyclables to the site. "We want to run a few things and work out the details," Lee explains.
Don Hjerpe, also of Mowhak Contracting, says they now accept everything for recycling. This includes cardboard, paper, tin cans, plastic containers marked from #5 to #1, etc.
"There's nothing (we don't take) anymore," said Hjerpe. "We are just able to take small batteries too."
That includes car batteries, propane tanks and used oil recycling, all at no charge to the residents.
Lee is pleased with the response they are receiving from the public and estimates they will recycle 200 to 250 tonnes in the first year of operation.
Previously residents were able to take their recycling to the Country Store. Owner Ed Nichols said "we will continue to accept newspapers and magazines for now but we are in the transition of moving everything up the hill (Lillooet landfill)."
However they will continue to accept milk jugs and drink containers as well as pop cans and bottles.
For those residents concerned with getting their recyclables up to the facility during the landfill's hours, the District of Lillooet is looking at setting up recycling bins in a couple of areas in the community.
According to Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Grant Loyer, he has discussed setting up bins with the SLRD. "Maybe setting up one set of bins maybe at the mall, another set somewhere on the other side of the river for people to access their recycling," Loyer said.
This program would be similar to the one run by Kamloops where they have the recycling bins set up in a location that is accessible to the public.
"Something similar to that on a smaller scale for Lillooet," said Loyer.
"We have to have another discussion with the (SL)RD on how we can get it, or how they can get it from point A to point B and then get it ready to be transported out of here."
Now that the recycling plant is up and running, Loyer said the District of Lillooet will continue discussions with the SLRD to see how they can make it all work.
"Council is committed to making this thing happen," said Loyer.