By Dan Walton
Multi-Material British Columbia came into effect last month, and it still hasnt mustered much support in the Columbia Valley.
Implemented on Monday, May 19th, the stewardship program transferred the cost of recycling certain materials from consumers to the producers (previously, consumers funded local recycling programs through municipal taxes). And while MMBC will reallocate the funds levied on producers towards regional recycling programs, many rural communities including those in the Columbia Valley will receive little to no benefit.
In densely populated parts of the province, its economical for communities to finance curbside recycling programs with MMBC funding. Where populations are sparse, however, implementing a recycling program is much less cost-effective yet producers are still subject to the same fees.
(Regional district residents) will pay slightly more for packaged products, hidden in the cost, said Kevin Paterson, the environmental service manager for the Regional District of East Kootenay. That money goes to MMBC to collect that material at the end of life.
The cost required to operate an adequate public recycling program would not be offset by the funding available through MMBC, he said. The only opportunity for residents throughout the East Kootenay to recycle products subject to MMBC is through the Cranbrook bottle depot.
The bottle depot has been run by Encorp Pacific a provincial recycling service well before the changes brought about by MMBC. Because its practices align with MMBC standards, Encorp inked a deal to offer MMBC collection at hundreds of locations in the province. Cranbrook is the lone location in the East Kootenays. A feasible solution for the region was not arrived at through the RDEK, said Mr. Patterson. RDEK offered a compromise, but MMBC was absolute about having its conditions met.
So people in the East Kootenays will pay that fee but not receive the service, he said, adding that people from Invermere are not going to drive recyclables to the Cranbrook Bottle Depot thats insane.
Since the 1990s, the RDEK has funded the yellow bin program a recycling practice that allows East Kootenay residents to dispose of certain recyclables via 400 yellow dumpsters placed throughout the region. When MMBC was in its planning stage, representatives approached the RDEK with interest in funding the yellow bin program, but because recyclables collected in yellow bins are not entirely in sync with those on MMBCs mandate, the yellow bin program is not qualified to receive funding from MMBC.
We will continue to serve the public through yellow bin program, Mr. Paterson said. It has been well-received and respected, adding that materials collected by MMBC are no longer supposed to be deposited in the yellow bins.
There is no added cost to the region when consumers dispose of their MMBC waste at the Cranbrook Bottle Depot, but if those materials are instead dumped in a yellow bin, they will add to the RDEKs recycling tab. The yellow bin programs requires the RDEK to spend $255 to process each metric ton of recyclable material.
Mr. Paterson isnt happy with the MMBC programs rollout, but to minimize RDEK expenses until a better solution is found, he said we need to encourage as many East Kootenay residents as we can to take their recyclables to the Cranbrook Bottle Depot.
While more MMBC-compliant depots could be set up elsewhere in the valley, each location requires paid supervision an expense that trumps any savings coming from a reduction in yellow bin use. Alternatively, each community in the province can collect the applicable recyclables through a curbside recycling program. Invermere already has a curbside program, but as with the yellow bins, the recyclables are not compatible. Invermere could receive around $60,000 in annual subsidy from MMBC for a new program, said Mayor Gerry Taft. But, like the idea of adding more drop-off depots, funding offered through MMBC wont support it. One of the affected producers, Home Hardware, will be tackling the new regulations from head office, said Invermere Home Hardware owner Al Miller.
I think there has been a fair bit of research done, he said. And they have people at the corporate level who have been hired for this whole compliance issue. Mr. Miller believes MMBC will cause materials to be packaged more efficiently, as producers will ensure their packaging is done properly and in a cost effective fashion. Thats the direction were going, and its the responsible thing to do.
The idea is supported by Mr. Taft, but he is dissatisfied with the execution. The concept of shifting the cost is good, but the implementation and how its been handled in this case has not been. To find out which materials are affected by the implementation of MMBC, visit www.multimaterialbc.ca or go to tinyurl.com/p53xryl .