Recycling depot deal denied by regional board

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
March 2nd, 2018

In the face of increased costs, fewer operating hours and a reduction in the regional recycling service, the regional district has rejected an offer from the provincial recycling body to establish a new service.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay board of directors have said ‘no’ to a deal from Recycle BC (RBC) to fund seven main recycling depots across the district, down from the current 26 recycling depots the RDCK now operates on its own. One of the seven full-service depots was slated for Nelson.

Although the RBC’s deal included several depots in addition to the main seven, those facilities would be funded by the RDCK and would have to meet RBC requirements — effectively creating an increase in operating and staffing costs for the regional district.

So if the RDCK intended to join Recycle BC and continue to offer a broader level of service like it now does, it would still be costly to taxpayers, said Uli Wolf, general manager of Environmental Services at the regional district.

“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 toward … cost-effective waste management,” he said.

“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.”

As a result, the board of directors felt the offer from Recycle BC was not suitable for the area and directed regional district staff to continue negotiations for a more acceptable deal — including asking the organization directly for money to operate recycling services in the RDCK.

A regional district staff report noted that communication of the changes were they to go with the Recycle BC deal would be the hardest aspect to sell people on, with a large reduction in hours for service for all recycling depots and no around-the-clock access to recycling bins.

The regional district could call upon the Ministry of Environment staff to get involved in the negotiations if they continue to stall, with the ultimate move to ask the minister of the Environment to step in if the negotiations falter.

The new provincial recycling system was an attempt to halt taxpayer-funded recycling programs and instead require the manufacturers of the material to bear the costs of disposing of the materials.

Currently, the RDCK contracts with Waste Management for the recycling program across the regional district, but 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,” noted a regional district release.

The Recycle BC program is in place in some locations around the province, but the local rural RDCK areas have not been enrolled in that program and therefore the people in the regional district contribute about $700,000 per year from taxation to pay for recycling services.

Recycle BC is a non-profit organization, formed by industry to meet industry’s obligations under B.C.’s Recycling Regulation.

Recycle BC is funded by producers of packaging and printed paper (PPP) to manage the recycling of these materials in B.C. They are obligated under the BC Recycling Regulation to provide free and reasonable access to recycling for residents.

Recycle BC collects recycling in most areas of the province at no cost to taxpayers, with the bill being footed by the manufacturers of the waste products.

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.

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