The trash situation will get a revamp ahead of next year’s Oak Bay Tea Party, says lead sorter Noreen Taylor.
Every year during the largest public event in the community, a small team of volunteers sorts each piece of trash into four categories – compost, soft plastic, hard plastic and garbage headed for the landfill. This year there were roughly equal amounts, seven bags of each.
“They were almost equal, but I believe three-quarters of it is garbage,” Taylor said, fearing many plastics they sorted into recycling may have been too dirty. For example, a coffee cup, lid and sleeve each go in a different bag and all three can be ruined by an ice cream cone or half-full mustard container dumped on top.
Rainy weather didn’t help this year, Taylor said, noting their piles included bags of soggy, dirty clothing. As always, dirty diapers topped the list of trash.
With no way to close the venue to outside trash, Taylor believes the event may never achieve zero waste. She approves all vendors on-site to have compostable containers and cutlery, but all outside food appeared to have some form of non-compostable element.
Taylor plans to work with municipal staff to review the methodology ahead of the 2023 party.
“We’re going to look at how we can upgrade or adapt our recycling efforts,” Taylor said, noting things have evolved even since the last Tea Party in 2019. “There’s more products out there that are more complicated to recycle, more involved to recycle.”