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Will recycling still be easy in 2014?
By September 16, 2013 local governments must make a decision with respect to their participation in the Packaging and Printed Paper Stewardship Program. In May 2014, the responsibility for collecting and processing household recycling will be changing in British Columbia. The new product stewardship program for “Packaging and Printed Paper” (PPP) that is being introduced will shift all responsibility for recycling of PPP from a public service to a privately funded system.
At the Aug. 15 Board meeting RDCK staff presented a list of options and a process to help assist in the decision making. The Board will need to consider the financial viability, the environmental impact, the social and legal factors as well as the question of principle during the evaluation process. Even with all these factors considered the RDCK will not recover the full cost of the PPP program and will still have to provide a taxpayer subsidy to a privately operated program.
The Environmental Management Act, the legislation that governs the Recycling Regulations, determines who is responsible.
“If we interpret the Act to say that once a product is the subject of a Schedule to the Recycling Regulations it is no longer the responsibility of local government then our response should be easy – we don’t handle it anymore, the stewards have to do that, ” stated John Kettle, RDCK Board Chair. “Whether we accept or decline the incentives from Multi- Material BC (MMBC), there will still be costs, many of them undetermined with the information we have. Most options will involve a subsidy to the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program and additional financial impacts due to increased garbage hauling and decreased landfill life.”
Product Stewardship Programs are an important issue for the RDCK Board of Directors. The proposed PPP program is scheduled to roll out in May 2014 and could significantly reduce access to recycling for RDCK residents, particularly those in the most rural areas. All local governments in B.C. are facing a considerable challenge in determining how to reasonably manage the transition of recycling from a public service to a privately funded system.
How the PPP program will affect existing RDCK recycling programs is still undetermined but one thing is certain, the RDCK Board of Directors will continue to advocate for the best interest of local taxpayers in the provincial recycling system. For more information about B.C.’s EPR system and the new PPP program contact the Recycling Council of British Columbia: www.rcbc.bc.ca or 1-800-667-4321.