The Village of Valemount & the Village of McBride have declined a curbside recycling proposal from MultiMaterial BC. The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George has also declined a recycling proposal from the organization.

The provincial government’s recycling regulation was amended in May 2011, and now requires producers of packaging and printed paper to implement a stewardship program for the collection and recycling of those products by May, 2014. The intent of the regulation is to shift responsibility for recycling onto producers and consumers.

MultiMaterial BC (MMBC) is a not for profit society formed to develop and implement a residential stewardship plan. It has offered an incentive program to municipalities to have them carry out collection services.

Renee McClosky, spokesperson for the Regional District told the Goat that after May 2014, local governments will no longer have the jurisdiction or the responsibility of collecting recyclables.

“At this point, we don’t know what recycling services will be available to residents after May 2014. Those are decisions that MMBC has to make,” says says Terry Burgess, Chair of the Regional District’s Environment and Parks Committee in a press release.

“We encourage MMBC to ensure residents in our region have equal, if not better access to recycling services than what is presently offered.”

The Regional District currently operates 17 multi-material drop depots, accepting newspaper, mixed paper products, milk jugs and cans.

The Regional District’s analysis for its municipalities estimated the incentive from MultiMaterial BC for Valemount to be approximately $20,000 annually, with the costs of the program estimated to be approximately $30,000 annually, excluding penalties. Additional significant concerns noted in Chief Administrative Officer Anne Yanciw’s report to council on September 10 were a low allowable contamination rate of three per cent, excessive penalties for infractions, potentially too much distance to a depot for delivery of collected material, and a requirement for increased labour from Village staff. Yanciw said there is generally public support for curbside recycling, as noted through comments gathered at the open house on garbage collection, but the cost is often higher than people think

Valemount Council voted unanimously to decline MultiMaterial BC’s curbside recycling proposal.

MultiMaterial BC also gave the Regional District an offer to provide depots for collection from regional residents outside of municipal boundaries. The Regional District announced on Thursday (September 12) it has declined MultiMaterial BC’s offer, stating that the risk to the Regional District was too great.

“The contract MMBC provided is heavily weighted in their favour and sets out extremely high standards and significant penalties for non-compliance,” says Burgess. “It would require the Regional District to make substantial capital upgrades to many of our present collection sites without an opportunity to recoup those costs.”

“In short, it’s not a deal we are at all comfortable with,” says Burgess.

Separate from the issue of providing collection services on behalf of MultiMaterial BC, the Ministry of Environment and MultiMaterial BC had been contending that local governments were producers of packaging and printed paper under the Recycling Regulation, and would therefore be required to implement stewardship plans. The Union of BC Municipalities received a legal opinion in August that contests that interpretation. In part, the legal opinion cites the Ministry of Environment’s Recycling Regulation Guide, which states that producer responsibility is not to be shifted to other levels of government without consent, and does not identify local governments as producers. The legal opinion states that municipalities would only be considered producers in the unlikely event they chose to import packaging or printed paper from outside the province to sell in a commercial enterprise. The Union of BC Municipalities recommends that members obtain their own legal opinions to ensure they are not liable as producers.

By Korie Marshall