Fee boost at transfer stations may boost illegal dumping

Added cost of disposing of material at transfer stations, and myriad rules and regulations governing disposal, may fuel illegal dumping.

A story on illegal dumping in Langley Township published by The Times last Wednesday has drawn a great deal of reader reaction.

One reason is that the cost to take a small load of garbage to the transfer stations in Langley or Surrey (the Port Kells transfer facility is located near the Surrey-Langley border) has jumped significantly, as of April 6.

Several callers to The Times have stated that they fully understand why people are dumping loads of garbage on the side of the road. It’s the added cost of disposing of material at the transfer stations, in addition to the myriad of rules and regulations governing disposal of unwanted items.

The minimum fee used to be $10. It is now $15, which includes a new $5 transaction charge which is applied to all loads. At the Port Kells transfer station, the minimum fee is $25, if the load is taken there between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., which is considered “peak time.”

As recently as 2009, the minimum fee was $3.

In addition to the minimum, those who drop off loads pay tipping fees of $130 per tonne if the load is less than one tonne. Rates are lower for larger loads.

That means that if you dispose of 200 kilograms of material above the minimum allowed (80 kg), you pay another $26.

One caller said he dropped off a small pickup load of material last week. His cost was $34.

His other beef was the myriad of rules that govern disposal of waste, and he has a point. Two categories of  items often ending up in garbage dumps are furniture and mattresses. Mattresses are not allowed. While you can dispose of them through mattress recycling companies, costs are prohibitive.

Some retailers will take used mattresses when you buy a new one from them — but that doesn’t come close to accounting for all the used mattresses.

As for furniture, the rules now state that no single object at transfer stations can exceed 0.35 square metres in cross section at any point; or exceed 1.2 metres in width and/or 2.5 metres in length. It cannot exceeds three cubic metres in volume.

That excludes a lot of furniture, particularly large couches or beds. Some of those items are hard to give away, let alone sell.

Many more items can be recycled these days, and it makes sense to recycle anything which can be reused. But Metro Vancouver, which operates the transfer stations, seems to be unaware of problems faced by ordinary people when it bans or severely restricts the ability to get rid of furniture and mattresses.

Dumping has become more and more widespread in rural areas, which Langley Township has in abundance. The recent increases in tipping fees and restrictive regulations are likely to lead to even more garbage being disposed of on the side of the road, or at the entrance to a farmer’s field.

The Township wants to use more surveillance and charge more people for illegal dumping, but perhaps it also needs to lean on Metro Vancouver so that people who are willing to pay fees to dispose of unwanted and obsolete items don’t feel that they are being taken to the cleaners each time they visit a transfer station.