- BC Games
There and back again
By Jim Holtz, Rossland News
Despite fears of increased costs raised in other districts and municipalities around the province over changes to recycling regulations, taxpayers in the Kootenay Boundary Regional District (RDKB) have nothing to worry about.
According to Alan Stanley, director of environmental services, when new regulations regarding recycling come into effect in May, neither taxpayers or homeowners will notice any change in either taxes or service.
“Our recommendation to the board, which was adopted, was that we keep the (recycling) program exactly as it is for the time being, and then we’ll let this new program start up,” he said.
As a result of new provincial regulations, all major retailers and producers of paper and plastic packaging must take responsibility for collecting and recycling their packaging by next May.
In order to achieve that end, a new provincial agency, Multi-Material BC (MMBC), was created and all major producers and retailers were required to join, each submitting an extensive plan for ways in which they intended to reduce the amount of packaging they use.
According to MMBC managing director Allen Langdon, producers will pay for their share of the new program based on how much packaging they generate, thereby providing them with a profit incentive to reduce packaging.
Having the MMBC take over paper and packaging recycling should result in an annual saving of around $500,000 to the regional district, according to RDKB chairman Larry Gray.
And while taxpayers may hope for a slight reduction in taxes because of that saving, Gray says that is not likely.
“We have some long term situations which we are looking at,” Gray said. “We have some landfill sites that we have to put some money aside for; maybe 20 years down the road we will have to close those sites.”
According to Stanley, the key to extending the life of landfill sites rests with effective organic waste management.
“Organics management is very important to the future of solid waste management programs,” Stanley said.
“It’s an absolutely fantastic opportunity to have that discussion, and the timing is perfect as well because the board has decided to do a full update of the Solid Waste Management Plan, the provincially mandated document that the districts have to have to look at a lot of these initiatives that we are working on.”
The complexity of having MMBC completely take over the wide variety of municipal and regional district recycling programs has left some local officials around the province concerned that not only will service be reduced, but that costs for taxpayers and home owners will increase.
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie worries that taxpayers will end up paying twice: first through their taxes and then again when the major producers and retailers increase the cost of goods to make up for the cost of recycling.
Stanley is more optimistic. The new program is very similar to recommendations that the RDKB brought to the Union of BC Municipalities in 2009, he said, and expansion of recycling and waste reduction is something that the region’s residents are in favour of.
“The success of the Grand Forks green bin program has really inspired a lot of the board members and the citizens across the district,” he said, and prompted many people to ask when it can be expanded throughout the district.
“There’s an awful lot of speculative nay saying, where people are saying that they don’t think this new program is going to work out,” Stanley continued. “Well, holy cow, we do a lot of new programs and initiatives and if we just worried about what might go wrong, we never would get anything done.
“You have to weigh the pros as well as the cons and give everything the appropriate weight, not just look at the negative which I think a lot of people are doing. I think that is doing a disservice to their citizens.”
Premier raps community recycling rollout
Business group says Toronto-based 'monopoly' unfair
By Jeff Nagel, Black Press
Premier Christy Clark is criticizing the rollout of a new recycling agency that has caused alarm among municipalities and businesses across the province.
Multi Material BC is slated to take charge of blue box pick-up next May when it becomes responsible for collecting and recycling all packaging and printed paper – at the provincial government's direction.
"I recognize this wasn't done well," Clark said of the planned producer-pay system. "It's been far too bumpy a ride. There is a lot more work to be done."
The premier spoke to reporters Friday, a day after local politicians at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention passed a resolution demanding more time to negotiate acceptable contracts with MMBC to avert higher costs and the potential erosion of existing recycling services.
Clark agreed more time and flexibility is needed "so that local communities have a little bit of leverage in trying to put together the best deal that works for them."
She said MMBC, a stewardship group formed of retailers and other packaging producers, must ensure its board includes British Columbians, not just industry representatives in Toronto.
Mike Klassen, B.C. director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, urged the premier to go further and "push the reset button" on the entire stewardship program for packaging and printed paper in light of widespread concern.
"Not only is it local government and public sector unions not happy with it, small business has very, very big concerns," he said.
Any business that puts packaging or printed paper in the hands of B.C. residents and ultimately the waste stream must register with MMBC as stewards.
Some small businesses were unaware of the program until they were warned by MMBC they could face fines of up to $200,000 if they fail to register.
Small businesses are worried about unknown costs and the onerous workload they may face under MMBC's model, Klassen said.
"Imagine what it would be like for a small restaurant with their name on the pizza box – they have to track all the weight and the amount of paper that they distribute with those pizzas they deliver and remit fees on a regular basis."
Small businesses have been asked to sign contracts without knowing what the final fee schedule will be, he added.
"No small business in their right mind would sign that contract," Klassen said. "This is the biggest issue we've seen come in from calls from our members in several years."
MMBC has said it will take more time to determine the costs of the program and how to apportion then – and it will exempt businesses with revenues of less than $750,000 – but many businesses fear the request that they trust the new agency amounts to signing a blank cheque.
Klassen said part of the problem is that MMBC's board consists of big business representatives who aren't taking smaller firms' needs into account.
He said it amounts to a Toronto-based "monopoly" and the province should pause implementation while it figures out how to ensure other stakeholders are better represented.