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Mission among cities concerned about new recycling plan
Jeff Nagel and Carol Aun
Mission is not prepared to join the Multi-Material BC (MMBC) recycling program without more information and assurances that the current levels of the curb side collection service is maintained in the community.
"We feel the proposed plan will undermine our existing recycling and diversion efforts," said Rick Bomhof, director of engineering and public works for the district, which also looks after refuse and recycling programs. "The time frame is too tight to assess the legal, financial, social and environmental implications."
Multi-Material BC (MMBC) is an industry stewardship group that the province has charged with recycling all types of packaging and printed paper (PPP) starting in mid-2014.
The program is intended to make the people who produce paper and packaging to also be in charge of having it recycled – putting residential recycling in control of industry.
Industry representatives will increase the costs of products to pay for the collection and processing of PPP from the curb, multi-family units and depots. As the PPP program cost is set by each producer and incorporated into the cost of the product, the cost for recycling will not be transparent to the consumer.
Communities have three options for participation in the program.
The first is to continue operating current contracts with collectors and receive a financial incentive from MMBC to cover costs. However, recycling would have to meet MMBC’s standards – ending curbside collection of recyclables like glass, film plastic and beverage containers, a service most communities currently offer.
"What MMBC has offered only covers 50 per cent of our costs," noted Bomhof, explaining Mission's blue bag programs accepts more recyclables than what MMBC is proposing, and Mission would have to create another program to continue collecting glass and plastic.
The second option is to allow MMBC to collect recycling in Mission – meaning the city would not have control over the service residents receive and any issues would have to be resolved with the provincial group.
The third option would be to opt out of the program entirely and continue with Misison's current recycling program. However, consumers would pay for the recycling in the cost of the product which wouldn't be transparent to the consumer, as well as paying for the city to collect it – effectively paying for the service twice.
"This would mean we don't receive any funding from the industry," said Bomhof. "The changes were intended to make producers responsible for (recycling) their material. We want to work with the province and MMBC to advance recycling."
Misison, like many other cities, didn't sign on to the program by the Monday deadline. MMBC agreed to let cities take more time and join the program after the scheduled May 19 launch date, setting the stage for more negotiations.
An emergency debate on the issue is slated for Thursday at UBCM.
MMBC says its recycling program will add 10 new categories of packaging not now accepted in blue boxes and it will be consistent province-wide, making public education easier.