Costs of recycling shakeup under fire at UBCM

Civic leaders spar with head of Multi Material BC over blue box changes coming next spring

Allen Langdon defends the planned Multi Material BC recycling system at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

Allen Langdon defends the planned Multi Material BC recycling system at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

B.C. civic leaders on Monday grilled the head of a new industry-led recycling agency over the costs and downsides of the new system set to replace municipally run blue box pick up next spring.

Vancouver Coun. Adriane Carr said she’s “gravely concerned” that Multi Material BC‘s $110-million annual budget to recover packaging and printed paper province-wide is much lower than the $190 million already spent each year in Metro Vancouver alone on recycling services.

“If there are significant cost reductions, you have to ask what are the service reductions,” said Carr, who warned it would be “backwards” if cities that have built strong recycling programs now see them shrivel under MMBC.

She and other municipal delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention pressed MMBC managing director Allen Langdon to increase the prices offered to local cities to act as collectors under the new system.

Langdon said he’s willing to talk to concerned cities but gave no sign of sweetening the offers already made.

“There’s a limit to what producers can actually sustain,” he said, referring to the firms that are responsible for recovering packaging and paper under new provincial regulations.

Nor would he commit to specific targets for reducing the amount of packaging encasing goods sold in B.C.

Langdon said producers will pay their share of the program based on how much packaging they generate, giving them a price signal to reduce their packaging or make it more recyclable.

But Carr said that could still allow producers and retailers to simply pass the extra costs along to consumers through higher prices without actually reducing their environmental footprint.

Many cities refused to sign on by a Monday deadline to act as collectors of recyclables under proposed contracts, either indicating they’ll keep running their own systems without MMBC financial aid or else they’ll leave the job entirely for MMBC to contract out to private  collectors.

But MMBC agreed to let cities take more time and join the program after the scheduled May 19 launch date, setting the stage for more negotiations.

An emergency debate on the issue is slated for Thursday at UBCM.

Costs and concern about service levels have been key challenges, said Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, adding his city would have to subsidize MMBC by $100,000 a year, while Vancouver pegs its shortfall at more than $5 million.

He said new contractors could adopt disjointed pick up schedules that don’t mesh well with garbage and organics collection, confusing residents and reducing participation.

“If they take it over there are so many what if’s that could come from it.”

Langdon said the new system will be a “significant change” for cities used to controlling recycling service but said many municipalities that sign on will have “most if not all” of their costs covered.

Langdon confirmed, however, that Lower Mainland residents could lose curbside pickup of glass if a new private contractor takes over blue box pickup in their city.

He said new collectors can propose a depot system instead for glass but that MMBC will have the final say.

MMBC wants to reduce contamination of blue box recyclables by keeping glass separate.

Other material that will be accepted only at depots include polystyrene foam and polyethylene film.

Nanaimo Regional District director Julian Fell suggested Metro Vancouver’s plan to build a new garbage incinerator will be at odds with MMBC’s plans to collect and recycle paper and packaging, unless it ends up being fuel in the new “waste to smoke” plant.

“Our intent is to recycle material,” Langdon responded. “At this point there’s no plan to use recovery technologies or waste incineration.”

An environment ministry spokesman cautioned that Metro’s waste plan isn’t a “licence to burn garbage” and will be subject to an environmental assessment and other permitting.

MMBC says its recycling program will add 10 new categories of packaging not now accepted in blue boxes and it will be consistent province-wide, making public education easier.

Moore agreed the program has much potential and is too important for cities to abandon.

“If we can achieve this every other province will follow it and we’ll have a massive effect across this country. If we do it wrong out of the gate, no one will follow it and it will be a disaster for everyone.”

Just Posted

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 Penticton-area men charged with Kamloops brothers’ double homicide

Brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May in Naramata

JAK's Liquor Store in Penticton will be donating 10 per cent of its sales on Saturday, June 19, to the Penticton Salvation Army Food Bank. (Photo from JAKS.com)
Stock up your liquor cabinet and support the Penticton food bank

Jak’s beer and wine store is donating a portion of sales to local food banks Saturday

The illegal open fire above Naramata continues to smoke on Friday, June 18. The fire was left to burn itself out by BC Wildfire. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Illegal open burn in Naramata will be left to smoke

BC Wildfire could not confirm whether the property owner had been fined

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road closed due to motorcycle crash near Vernon

Emergency crews called to incident near Evely campground

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
Donors who gave $1M to Central Okanagan grads want to send positive message

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Most Read