History of GIRO

How GIRO Operates

GIRO was created in 1991 after Gabriolans identified a need for the island to provide a facility where people could recycle and divert waste from going to the landfill.

GIRO has evolved with the island’s needs, expanding its services to include a 30 foot metal bin for nonferrous metals, and a bin for aluminum. These two bins have become invaluable—enabling people to drop off large and small appliances, as well as scrap metal. This service keeps scrap from being dumped in the woods, and saves islanders a trip to town to drop off at other locations.

As the island community continued to grow, GIRO joined more programs, including the Product Care program, which accepts household paint, hazardous chemicals, used oil and aerosols.

Other recycling programs we now offer include:

* Batteries

* Light-bulbs

* Electronics

* Cardboard, Newspaper, Office Paper, Mixed Paper

* Plastics 1-7, Soft film

* Plastic Drink Bottles

* Juice, Milk and Soup Tetrapaks

* Glass bottles for Wine, Beer, Pop and Liquor, as well as food-glass jars

GIRO also accepts used books that we recycle for a small donation. We remove the cover and spine before adding the paper to our mixed paper bag.

Re-Store and Clothing

The Re-Store and Clothing Department accept donations that can either be sold for reuse, or recycled, for example a broken toaster.

Our pricing policy in the store is based on quality (including rare goods), condition, and seasonality. We also price items based on whether something is a necessity like clothing and housewares, or whether it is a luxury item (art, jewelry and collectables). All necessity items are priced for people on a budget. Luxury items are researched and valued by weight for gold and silver, or assessed by an outside expert to determine market value.

Eighty percent of our merchandise is priced at $3 and under. In addition prices are  further reduced over time on stock that hasn’t moved.

GIRO’s Social-Enterprise Model

GIRO Is unique Among the Gulf Islands because it is a self-funded organization. Unlike other southern Gulf Island depots, we do not receive on-going funding from our regional district to help run our operation. We do, however, receive various grants from the Regional District of Nanaimo, to support special projects such as the construction of our new Re-Store facility. Other recycling depots rely on 50 percent of monthly revenue from their local district to cover the shortfall of the expenses to collect, process and transport recyclables.

Here is why GIRO has adopted our self-funding model:

MMBC And Funding Shortfalls

In 2014 The BC Recycling Regulation under the Environment Management Act required that every producer of Printed Paper and Packaging that wishes to sell and distribute their product in BC must be a member of an approved plan concerning the end of life management of their products. A group of companies that produce packaging then established a non-profit agency called MMBC(Multi Materials British Columbia) to take over the responsibility for running this program. Previously this task was carried out (very efficiently) by local governments and recycling depots. MMBC draws its funding from the sale of recycled materials and from the fee that producers are forced to pay to be in the only officially “approved” program. A number of producers who do not agree with MMBC’s contract have actively opposed it and not joined the program. (The Board managing MMBC consists of senior executives from the following Corporations; Unilever, Loblaws, Walmart, Tim Hortons, Coca Cola, and Proctor and Gamble.)

MMBC’s aim is to recover 75 percent of printed paper and packaging from consumers through blue-box collection (local government) and recycling depots. Their business plan included sufficient funding for urban depots, but they did not allow for the funding that Gulf Island depots require. The program has received serious criticism from producers of packaging and printed paper, local governments, and rural depots.

Gabriola is the only Gulf Island that has blue-box collection and a recycling depot. Other Gulf Island residents rely solely on their recycling depots to collect and transport recyclables. When MMBC was introduced they reduced the funding to rural depots by two thirds. They have also set fixed prices on the recyclables they are willing to accept from depots, and rejected the commodities that are not making them a profit to collect, for example food-glass jars. This shortfall jeopardized these depots ability to continue operating. This resulted in a coalition of recycling depots that disputed these cutbacks in court. The outcome is that for now the CRD (Capital Regional District) has agreed to cover these shortfalls until 2019. This will hopefully buy affected depots enough time to create a new contract with MMBC where all the funding will be secure.

GIRO And MMBC

When MMBC was introduced, the RDN advised GIRO to join the program. After careful scrutiny of the contract by the Board and Recycling Manager Dean Clark, GIRO concluded that if we joined the program we would no longer be able to make our own decisions because MMBC would now be setting policies for GIRO. Consequently, GIRO chose not to join the program

One of GIRO’s main strengths is that we can operate independently. We have evolved successfully as a stand-alone organization through the combination of monies we receive from the resale of donations, through the recycling services that we offer and twenty five years of community support. We are always looking at innovative ideas that will keep a commodity local, as well as divert more from the landfill.

Where We Stand Now

At the end of 2016, the Re-Store accounted for 53 percent of GIRO’s revenue, the clothing department generated 22 percent, and the combined revenue from all the programs used by the recycling department accounted for 25 percent.

Some of the services we offer, like the metal bin, are run at a loss, which is why we ask for a small donation at drop-off. This policy could change once metal prices improve. The recycling waste stream is very complex and is affected by world markets: some commodities can be handled at a profit, while others cost money to process.

Your continued support through donations and purchasing used goods, as well as bringing us your blue box contents will help to ensure GIROs longevity.

Our main aim is to continue to divert as much waste as possible from the landfill, as well as to educate islanders as to what they can recycle and how to reduce their footprint.

Thank you for your continued support. It is always appreciated.

Michelle MacEwen

General Manager