Ashcroft wary of province’s new recycling plan

New recycling collection program initiated by the province has several requirements that could be big expenditures for small communities.

Ashcroft Council is proceeding cautiously with a new recycling plan introduced by the BC government.

At the Aug. 26 Council meeting, councillors voted to tell Multi Material BC that it is interested in considering their financial incentives, however it is unable to make a final decision until more information is forthcoming.

“It’s not viable for Ashcroft,” said Mayor Andy Anderson. “There are far too many things out of our control.”

Ashcroft is not the only municipality viewing the new program with caution.

In 1989 the Socred government introduced amendments to the Waste Management Act which mandated regional districts to develop solid waste management plans by the end of 1995 and to include a recycling component.

The province decided to shift the onus of recycling in 2011 from local government to the manufacturing industry. It amended its Recycling Regulation to require companies that supply packing and printed paper (PPP) to take responsibility for providing residents with reasonable access to PPP collection services. The Ministry of Environment approved the Packaging and Printed Paper (PPP) Stewardship Plan in April 2013. The plan is to be implemented by May 2014.

To implement the plan, the MMBC, a not-for-profit agency, was formed. Multi Material BC (MMBC) has a board of directors made up of industry representatives who were tasked to develop and implement a residential stewardship plan. EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) is meant to provide incentives for product design and production that emphasizes easier recycling, dismantling and repair, as well as reduced packaging.

MMBC has proposed a financial incentive to encourage municipalities to expand their service to curbside recycling collection, offering $35 per household.

Ashcroft Administrator Michelle Allen advised Council that the Village spends approximately $80-$100 per household to collect solid waste already.

Columbia Institute’s Centre for Civic Governance released a report in August – Multi-Material BC and Local Governments – that reviewed the program and its effects on local governments:

“Without greater public oversight and ongoing consultation, the core imperative for an industry-run organization like MMBC is likely to be cutting costs, rather than cutting the amount of waste products going to landfills or maximizing recycling. Many BC municipalities are concerned that could lead to backsliding in recycling programs, undermining years of public investment and progress in waste reduction,” it stated.

Administrator Allen told councillors that the Village would need to change its curbside collection system as the containers used to collect the PPP are not compatible with the Ashcroft’s new garbage truck.

The MMBC has also indicated that municipalities will have to take the recyclables to a depot of MMBC’s choosing, which will not further than 60 km from the municipality.

Although they will pay a bonus for increased volume and weight of PPP collected, they also charge fines for service failures, such as 1. Overstatement of curbside households in service area ($5,000); 2. Failure to provide a required report on time ($500 per day past deadline); 3. Delivery of materials with more than three per cent contamination ($5,000 per ticketed load); and 4. Delivery schedule halted or altered due to labour disruption ($5,000 per day).

“Most of these failures could be monitored,” said Allen, “however the three per cent contamination rate is a concern. TNRD does random checks on their (recycling) collection and average between 8-10 per cent contamination.”

“Do we have to go with this as a municipality?” asked Coun. Doreen Lambert.

“No,” replied Anderson, “They can put it out to a private contractor instead, and pay them more.”

“It’s disturbing they’ve been given so much leeway and don’t even have to consult with the Village,” said Coun. Jerry Fiddick.

At this point, MMBC can change the scope of the work required with no input from the local government, as well as dictate policies and standards and service levels. The plan is set up in MMBC’s favour, leaving municipalities with little recourse, said Allen.

She added that the TNRD has indicated that they will not reduce the current level of service regarding recycling, however the board had not made a decision on whether or not to sign a contract with MMBC.

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