BRADFORD - There’s a donation bin outside a church on Simcoe Road, benefitting the Children’s Wish Foundation, a charity that grants the wishes of children with serious or terminal medical conditions.
The bin itself is operated by the Toronto-based for-profit company Recycling Rewards, which for the last 12 years has been transforming unwanted clothing, bedding, books, toys and other household items into cash for charities like Children’s Wish. A member of the Recycling Council of Ontario, it boasts a 98 per cent diversion rate for textiles.
A sign on the bin specifies: no appliances, mattresses, furniture, metal, paper or garbage, but recently at least one donor didn’t read the notice.
Old and rusted cans of paint, some of them missing the labels, were dumped outside the bin.
“It’s a horrible thing,” said a Recycling Rewards supervisor, notified of the situation. “It’s a charity organization – people should be giving valuable things.”
Cleanup is the responsibility of the company, which sent a truck to pick up the items as soon as it was notified – but it takes a bite out of the funds raised for charity, and is forcing the church to rethink its agreement with Recycling Rewards, even to consider installing costly security cameras in the parking lot.
Susan Hunter, acting director of Solid Waste Management with the County of Simcoe, has a message for whoever dumped the paint cans at the bin: contact the county first.
“We have five Household Hazardous Waste facilities across the county,” licenced to take properly labelled household, residential hazardous materials, Hunter noted, but there are two of the facilities – in Tosorontio and Oro-Medonte – that are additionally licenced to accept commercial and institutional hazardous waste from “small quantity generators.”
That includes charities, churches, municipalities, small businesses and contractors generating less than 100 kilograms of materials in a month.
The “small quantity generator” just has to contact the Service Simcoe Contact Centre, at 705-795-3003, to set up the proper file.
“It is a bit of paperwork, but they get to dispose of their materials for free,” said Hunter. Staff are available to assist in filling out the paperwork, and explain the process.
It’s true that the county’s Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facilities reserve the right to refuse unknown materials – including cans missing their labels. “Labels are one of the tools that HHW staff use to determine the proper classification of hazardous waste,” Hunter explained.
All the same, she said, it’s not unusual for items to come in without labels, and HHW staff can use “other testing methods to try and determine the material type.”
Hunter added, “It is rare that residents would be turned away at our sites as our intention is always to keep these types of materials out of the waste stream while avoiding illegal dumping.”
If an item is refused, Hunter encourages residents to contact customer service at 705-735-6901.
County facilities are not licenced to accept PCBs, biomedical waste or radioactive waste – but even if an item is not acceptable to the facility, “we can refer them to another company that deals with these products every day,” Hunter said.
“That’s our priority, to keep that out of landfill.”
Hunter noted that Simcoe County is a leader in handling Household Hazardous Waste, with a complete program that is open six days a week “year-round” – and with the help of the Service Simcoe Contact Centre, there’s no reason to be dumping paint cans in ditches, or at donation bins.