Fernie Bottle Depot

Recycling is high on the priority list in my household. I have the ‘Blue Bag’ system for the recyclables that the City collects from our doorstep every other week. I have a compost bin in the garden and the wine, beer and milk containers collect in the garage until I do a run to the Fernie Bottle Depot.

I might make the trip to the Fernie Depot once a month and it’s always a hub of activity. I think the only time I’ve passed the Depot with no one there is when they close on a Sunday and Monday. On any other day of the week they always seem to be busy.

On a recent visit to exchange my recyclables I got talking to Taisung Kim, who runs the Fernie Bottle Depot, and got his story.

“My family and I immigrated from South Korea to Canada in 2006. We landed in Vancouver and whilst looking for a business opportunity I remember visiting my first landfill site. It made me realize that whilst Canada and South Korea are two very different countries we do share some similar issues. So I’m really happy that I’m involved in recycling and contributing towards preserving Canada’s natural beauty.”

Taisung explained to me that the energy consumption and environmental damaged caused to create our plastic containers, aluminum cans and glass bottles can be minimized by recycling, because we can reuse the materials already in production, rather than keep extracting the raw materials from the ground.

“You can also make some money back on recycling. We give deposits back for soft drinks, juice, water, sports drinks, coolers, beer, wine and spirit bottles. Unfortunately we can only give money back on those products that have a ‘refund deposit’ attached to them, so while we can recycle most products we can’t always give you money for them.”

Currently you can also voluntarily recycle milk containers, paint and electrical goods at Fernie Depot and they are hoping to add home appliances to that list this summer. So if you have TV’s, computers, phones, printers or faxes in need of recycling this is the place to take them.

“It’s always great to see mom’s bringing their children into help. They get to sort bottles and containers and bring them up to the counter to get money back. I think it’s a really important lesson for our children, to encourage them to reuse and recycle. And also to show them that there’s money to be made if they do!”

Winters are the busiest season for the Depot and last year Taisung remembers that the largest pay-out he’s ever given to a customer was over $1000 at the end of last years ski season, when a bar brought down it’s last empties. But before you get excited remember that’s 15,000 beer bottles or 5000 wine bottles!

Recycling is a bit of an art at the Depot, so it helps to get the process right. Taisung and his family are recycling on average 30,000 pop cans, 20,000 units of plastic, 10,000 beer bottles and 10,000 liquor bottles per week in Fernie, so they have a system in place to ensure this runs smoothly.

If it has been a while since you recycled, here’s a reminder:
- When you enter the Depot take your containers and bottles to the sorting station
- Group plastic bottles, beer bottles and wine bottles into separate trays
- If you have containers that do not offer a refund pop them in the appropriate bin
- Then bring your empties to Taisung at the cash desk and he’ll refund you!

But don’t worry; there is always someone on hand to show you how to do it if you’re unsure.

In response to customer requests Fernie Depot now has a general recycling bin outside the building, so that you can recycle cardboard and other goods that might be hiding in the bottom of your recycling box. And by the summer they hope to have a glass recycling bin also.

And I have to admit that one of the biggest thrills I get when I recycle at the Fernie Depot is the cash. After hoarding up a huge pile of bottles and containers I get to hand them over to Taisung and he punches the numbers into his cash register and gives me money! Ok, so it’s only $5, but that’ll buy me a coffee, in a reusable mug of course.

Fernie Bottle Depot is located just over the train tracks at the end of 1st Ave and 13th Street.
Opening Times: Tues – Sat 10am – 5pm
More information: www.encorp.ca