City expresses concerns over new recycling program
City council, at its regular meeting last night (Tuesday) voted unanimously to send a letter expressing concerns around a recently launched, province-wide recycling program.
Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff, who brought the motion forward, said the roll-out of MultiMaterial BC (MMBC) was mishandled and the merit in the program itself, for a city like Castlegar, remains in question.
“It’s pushing us backward, not forward,” she said. “We had such a great program already in Castlegar – pretty much the only thing you couldn’t recycle was styrofoam – and now we can’t recycle glass or plastic grocery bags.
“For a community without recycling services in place, this will be great, but for a progressive community like Castlegar, it’s backsliding.”
She said the one-size-fits-all approach to administering the MMBC program is ill-considered, given the diversity of BC communities and districts.
“There are all kinds of different towns, cities and districts, each with their own needs and challenges – recycling should not be a cookie-cutter service,” she said.
She said problems with the program were evident from the very start.
“The whole process has been flawed,” she said. “There really was no public consultation.”
She also said the underpinning ideas appear flawed as well, explaining the inability to recycle things like glass may offset any tax relief MMBC (a privately-owned, not-for-profit company) may have accorded local residents.
“That’s one of the things I want to ask, is whether the cost of having to initiate our own recycling programs for those others materials will cancel out the benefit we were promised to receive as a result of this program.”
The idea, according to MMBC’s website ( http://recyclinginbc.ca/ ), is to make manufacturers responsible for the cost of collecting, sorting and recycling paper and packaging materials – but Heaton-Sherstobitoff said that will ultimately be handed down to the consumer through product costs.
She also said it creates both environmental and convenience issues.
“We want them to take recycling and garbage at the same time, reducing fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions from the vehicles, reducing the chances of creating human-wildlife conflict, and keeping the whole process convenient for residents – otherwise, I’m worried it will become a disincentive and actually discourage people from recycling.
“If it’s not as easy as one-two-three, lots of people won’t do it,” she said.
The MMBC recycling program came into effect in Castlegar, Kaslo and Nakusp on May 19.
The RDCK elected not to participate in the MMBC program because the financial incentives offered were less than it was then paying for the service – and also because rules set out by MMBC would require the regional district to do significant upgrades to recycling depots and staff them, at a cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Uli Wolf, general manager of environmental services says all RDCK recycling depots will keep operating at the status quo come Monday.
“Residents that utilizes RDCK recycling depots won’t see any changes when the MMBC program launches May 19,” Wolf said in a press release.
“RDCK depots will accept the same materials and continue to operate business as usual.
“The RDCK is not part of the MMBC program and will continue to provide uninterrupted recycling depot services throughout the region.”
Another party not on side is big business, such as nurseries, grocery stores and newspapers. They have warned the extra costs will threaten the viability of their operations and have also balked at the lack of accountability for MMBC, which is expected to take in $110 million annually in fees with little government oversight on how it is spent.
Information about what can and cannot be recycled is available at www.recyclinginbc.ca or by contacting the Recycling Council of BC at 1-800-667-4321.
– With files from The Nelson Daily