Regional politicians are frustrated with the provincial government’s recyling program.

RDCK board lobbies minister on recycling

Regional board members met with environment minister Mary Polak this week.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay board has agreed to step up its lobbying of BC’s environment minister, asking her to enforce a provincial recycling law.

That law requires companies that produce paper and packaging to pay Multi Material BC to recycle paper products when they enter the waste cycle. But many companies have not signed on, even though the program has been in place for two years.

According to RDCK staff, this means its residents pay twice to have their paper and packaging recycled: once when they buy the products (whose prices have been increased to pay for recycling) and then taxes to have the RDCK process their recycling.

The RDCK would like to hand over its recycling to MMBC rather than doing it itself at a cost to local taxpayers of nearly $1 million per year

But MMBC, which provides recycling for many municipalities and regional districts across the province, says it cannot take on more because it can’t afford to, because many businesses that produce paper products in the province have not signed on.

“For us to expand we need additional businesses joining,” MMBC’s Allen Langdon told the board at their meeting last week. “There are hundreds of businesses not meeting their regulated obligations.”

MMBC provides recycling services for several local communities, including Nelson, although their presence is not obvious here because they contract curbside collection back to the city.

The RDCK board passed a resolution earlier this year to send a bill to MMBC for reimbursement of its recycling costs but did not follow up.

At the recent meeting, it was suggested the bill should be sent instead to the government because it doesn’t enforce the requirement that all paper producers join MMBC.

However the board ultimately decided that sending a bill to either party was too confrontational and that it should lobby the minister instead.

“If we slap a bill on them it will create a huge rift that we cannot repair,” said RDCK chair and Nakusp mayor Karen Hamling. “It would be better to push them to start fining these companies, and then ask them to reimburse us.”

RDCK members attending the annual Union of BC Municipalities conference this week met with environment minister Mary Polak about this.

RDCK manager Stuart Horn told the Star today that “we definitely felt heard.”

He said the minister appears to take the government’s enforcement responsibility seriously, but that she prefers to negotiate with delinquent producers rather than force them.

Also at the conference a resolution was brought to the floor by the Town of Comox asking the UBCM to urge the government to start fining companies that don’t join MMBC.