RDCK negotiating with Recycle BC for 'acceptable level of service'
The Board of Directors of the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) has directed staff to continue negotiations with Recycle BC and the Ministry of Environment to develop a recycling program that will provide an acceptable level of service for residents across the RDCK. The board made this decision at its Special Budget Meeting on Feb. 16, after considering concerns that each of the three Resource Recovery Sub-Region Committees have about the current Recycle BC proposal.
“The RDCK strives to deliver services—including resource recovery services—in the most cost-effective and sustainable way possible, with the needs of our residents in mind,” said Tom Newell, Director of RDCK Electoral Area F and Chair of the Joint Resource Recovery Committee. “While the program delivered by Recycle BC would allow additional materials to be recycled and diverted away from our landfills, we have serious concerns with the level of service in what they have proposed.”
Staff at the RDCK have been working with Recycle BC (RBC) to potentially establish a network of depots in each RDCK Resource Recovery Sub-Region. The initial proposal from RBC to the RDCK provided for seven core recycling depots across the entire district that would be serviced by an RBC-designated and financed contractor. This is a drastic reduction from the current network of 26 depots. Satellite depots, serviced by the RDCK, were presented to each Sub-Region Committee as an option to maintain an acceptable level of service for residents, but those would come at an additional cost.
“Partnering with Recycle BC has some key benefits—such as the expansion of materials accepted for recycling, the potential for cost savings, and the ability to work towards the Board’s strategic priority of responsible and cost-effective waste management,” said Uli Wolf, General Manager of Environmental Services at the RDCK. “However, the proposal from Recycle BC includes fewer depots and reduced hours. The intent may be to divert more recyclables with a higher quality from our landfills, but this proposal would likely have the opposite effect because many of our rural residents won’t be able to reasonably participate.”
Concerns were raised by the Sub-Regional Committees over the changes in access to recycling and potential for increased recycling costs that a transition to RBC’s recycling program could bring. The Committees used strong language to voice their displeasure with the proposal, but ultimately the board directed staff to continue talks with RBC or to seek alternatives, which could include direct funding to the RDCK.
“RDCK residents shouldn’t have to ‘pay twice’ for their recycling program,” said Newell. “They pay once when they purchase goods from producers who are participating in the Recycle BC program, and they shouldn’t have to pay again with their tax bill. I hope Recycle BC comes to the table with ways to address our concerns.”
Recycle BC is funded by producers of packaging and printed paper (PPP) to manage the recycling of these materials in BC. They are obligated under the BC Recycling Regulation to provide free and reasonable access to recycling for residents. The RDCK originally considered joining the Recycle BC program in 2014, but after entering into negotiations was told that RBC could not accept more communities at the time due to a lack of funding. Recycle BC is currently admitting more districts and municipalities into their program to satisfy their obligation, thanks in part to additional funding received from the provincial government.
The RDCK operates 26 recycling depots across the region, serving more than 60,000 residents across the West, Central, and East Sub-Regions. Currently, the RDCK contracts with Waste Management for the recycling program across the RDCK. The Waste Management contract expires in November 2018. Staff anticipate independent recycling program costs will increase due to fluctuating recycling market values and reduced material rebates.
For more information about RDCK waste and recycling services, visit www.rdck.ca.