Home garage mechanics don’t have it easy in Red Deer — at least not when it comes to disposing used oil.
Private companies that used to accept used oil from the community for recycling no longer do this in the city, and the municipality has never had an oil recycling program.
Janet Whitesell, waste management superintendent for the City of Red Deer, said the landfill is not equipped to take in used oil from the community, and refitting it with the needed infrastructure would be costly.
The situation frustrates some Red Deerians, including Brad Glover, who noted in a Facebook post that even some smaller municipalities have oil disposal sites, but not Red Deer.
“They turn a blind eye, and the used… oil goes into our landfill, our sewer, our ditches,” Glover wrote.
He learned the problem stems from the government-funded Alberta Recycling Management Association. It’s not compensating businesses, or the municipality, enough for the collection of used oil — even though a portion of every litre of oil sold in the province is supposed to support the infrastructure needed around the disposal of used oil.
Since the ARMA program does not cover the full cost of oil recycling, the City of Red Deer would have to charge Red Deerians for dropping it off at a municipal site.
And Whitesell said this would understandably raise questions, as people have already effectively paid for this service when they buy their oil.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations and have shared our concerns,” added Whitesell — but at this time, local residents would have to drive to Sylvan Lake or Lacombe to find used oil drop-off sites.
They could also wait for the next hazardous waste round-up, which also collects used oil from households at drop-off locations. It’s expected to be held in the spring and fall.
She added that only 2 to 3 per cent of all used oil comes from people doing oil changes in the community.
But Glover suggested this could still, cumulatively, cause a lot of contamination. “Put pressure on our MLAs. Our land is all we have left,” he advised.
Elizabeth Gray, public relations manager for the Alberta Recycling Management Authority, said it works with 84 municipalities, many the size of Red Deer and smaller, to provide permanent used oil disposal sites.
The ARMA will discuss with City of Red Deer officials whether regular waste round-ups meet the needs of city residents, or whether a permanent site is required, said Gray.
Meanwhile, she added that city residents can drop off used oil at a private site in Red Deer County — at Enviro-Sort, 4229 Hewlett Drive.