Complexity is ok if it makes sense.

Have you ever felt like everyone is treating you like an idiot?

Not in a mean way, but more like “Well, let’s make this as simple as possible so lots of people do it!

There is plenty of merit to the old “Keep It Simple Stupid” principle, but I think there are times when complexity can actually make things easier because it mimics the complexities of life that we deal with every day. If there is a good reason, and a good reward for a little added complexity, then it’s probably worth it.

Let’s Recycle Everything

In Port Alberni and surrounding areas, we have a grey bin for garbage, a blue bin (or any bin with a sticker) for recycling, and hopefully soon a green bin for composting. Great! However, our recycling program has never been perfect, and as market conditions change for recycled material, it has gotten harder.

This article in the AV News brought up a huge bugaboo for me. You can’t put every recyclable thing into a blue bin!

Image from AV News Article Dec 2, 2019

People naturally want to recycle everything, but as the article points out, you can’t just chuck every item with a recycle symbol in the bin. Not only will it not all get recycled, it might even make your easily recycled stuff go to the dump instead!

A 2-bin Recycle System

There are basically 2-classes of recyclables, those that can be picked up at curb-side and thus sent immediately away to be dealt with mechanically, and those that have to go to a depot to be sorted manually. I’ve highlighted the latter.

The red stuff in the yellow box has to be go to the transfer depot (on 3rd Avenue) or, ironically, the depot at the landfill, to be manually sorted. For many, this is too much either because they don’t have an easy way to get there or they simply don’t do it. So it can be assumed that those soft plastics and glass are ending up in the garbage and that’s exactly what we don’t want.

Alternating Blue and Red Box pickup.

Currently, in Port Alberni, we get recycling picked up every 2nd week and garbage every week.

We could easily have this system tweaked so that the regular “Blue Box” pickup was done on one week, and the alternative “Red Box” pickup was done the 2nd week.

That would make it possible for people to separate the items at home and come up with a predictable system they can manage to eliminate ‘contamination’ of one or the other.

A little added complexity in the system would actually make it easier for people to prevent their waste from filling up the landfill.

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