Issue of recycling in B.C. comes to Nakusp again

The complex and incendiary issue of changes to how recycling is carried out in the province came to Nakusp.

The complex and incendiary issue of changes to how recycling is carried out in the province came to the Nakusp council table at the Sept. 9 meeting. CAO Linda Tynan and CFO Rob Richards gave a report about financial incentives being offered by Multiple Material BC (MMBC) and options available to the Village at this point. Tynan was clear from the beginning that making a decision at this juncture was very difficult due to a lack of information.

“Right off the start I’d like to say we’re being asked to consider something where we don’t have all the big picture,” said CAO Tynan. Where a depot would be located is a big question that there is no answer for yet, she gave as an example.

Currently, recycling services are provided by RDCK are part of waste management services, and cost the Village approximately $14,000 for the depot service.

The Environmental Recycling Act has shifted the onus on producers to pay for paper and packaging recycling, said Tynan, and as a result product stewards have arisen like MMBC.

At the beginning, RDCK was approached by MMBC who told them they were taking responsibility for recycling in the province and that if the regional district worked for them as a contractor, they would be offered a financial incentive.

The not-for-profit agency purportedly sent municipalities letters, but they admit they might have missed some municipalities. said Tynan. The letter said if municipalities already provide curbside garbage service, they would offer an incentive to pick up recycling as well, and drop it off at a depot which can be up to 60 km away. Or, municipalities can choose to be a depot.

CFO Rob Richards and CAO Tynan estimated the incentive could be $21,000, but that is only an estimate as no exact numbers for the incentive have been given.

RDCK staff are recommending to board to say no to the financial incentives, but they are also saying that RDCK will no longer provide recycling services as of May 2014.

“That’s forcing us to look at what [MMBC] offering us,” Tynan said.

Option one: the Village takes the incentive and offers curbside recycling, but the distance to a depot is still unknown, but up to 60 km. And products such as glass and some plastics will not be eligible for the service.

Option two: The Village has a depot in town, but a penalty for dirty containers could reduce the amount of the incentive, increasing costs to the Village.

According to legislated standard, if contamination of containers is greater than three per cent, depots will be penalized, and the penalty can be up to the amount of the incentive.

Option three: the Village says no curbside recycling nor a depot, contractors who may answer an RFP might have to deliver to a depot further than 60 km.

“We need to have the decision-making time delayed,” said the CAO. She had been told this was absolutely not possible because the Minister of Environment was committed to the May 2014 rollout date.

“It goes against every principle of local government being prudent in decision making,” Tynan told council. “They’re asking you to make a decision without all of the information.”

There were concerns raised that the contracts with MMBC seemed one-sided.

“Philosophically this is wrong. The product stewardship program was supposed to shift responsibility on to producers, it’s now on us,” said Coun. Mueller.

In a special meeting, Nakusp council voted to adopt the curbside incentive and service.