Cortes Island recycling centre sign

Waste management centre struggles with population growth, constantly evolving recycling rules

By Greg Osoba, CKTZ News, through an LJI grant from

Cortes Island’s population swells in the summer months from 1,000 year-round residents to at least 3,000 with the influx of friends, family and tourists. Every year, the sheer volume of solid waste and items for recycling overwhelms staff at the island’s waste management centre.

Manager Brian Pfeifle says the increase in solid waste during the summer is more than the centre can manage, as all of it must be shipped off Cortes Island in containers to a landfill on Vancouver Island. Ferry overloads compound the issue, making it more difficult for trucking companies to transport the waste.

Pfeifle adds that educating the public about what can be recycled and how to sort materials at home before they arrive at the centre is key. He urges Cortes residents and visitors to inform themselves of details in advance by visiting the Recycle BC website. 

Overall, Pfeifle says recycling has come a long way and progress continues locally on removing certain kinds of materials from the landfill and making more available for recycling.

The facility now operates a sophisticated reception and sorting operation: Pfeifle has witnessed major changes over the years from when he began working there in 2009.