Former employee critical of North Island Hospital recycling practices

A former North Island Hospital employee says recyclables at the Comox Valley and Campbell River facilities are largely ending up in landfills.

Marcel Marechal, who worked in housekeeping at the Campbell River Hospital, said supervisors were instructing staff members to throw items from blue recycling bins into the trash. He claims that brown cardboard boxes, shredded paper inside confidential bins and a small percentage of drink containers were the only items to be recycled.

“Other than that, everything gets thrown in the garbage,” Marechal said while still a hospital employee. “I’m a housekeeper, and I know, because I’m the one who collects these things and throws them in the trash…There’s a lot of upset people, and it’s really terrible. It’s happening at both hospitals. It could be happening at other ones, too. It’s a big issue.”

In a statement, Island Health says it is committed to caring for patients and the environment. Through its recycling program at the North Island Hospital campuses, it strives to recycle every material possible.

“Our Environmental Support Services department works closely with site leadership to develop and implement ongoing education for staff around recycling practices.”

Signage posted at each recycling area reminds people where to place specific materials. Island Health says it also provides feedback and encouragement to staff.

“Recent changes to global recycling policies have limited our ability to recycle certain products. This is not unique to Island Health or health care in general, as commercial recycling facilities limit the materials they will accept,” the statement says. “Commercial recycling depots have stringent rules and will not accept loads “contaminated” with non-recyclable materials. This is why Island Health continues to promote education and diligence with our staff to ensure we effectively recycle all materials the recyclers will accept.”

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