Feature Story                                                                                         Thursday, March 20, 2014


The Trouble with Trash

City of Chilliwack has concerns with MMBC recycle program

Staff/Voice photo


Trash receptacles in the lobby at Chilliwack City Hall Tuesday.


aste recycler Multi-Material BC (MMBC) announced Monday they will now be able to handle previously hard-to-recycle items such as; milk cartons, plastic pots, clam shells and hot-cold drink cups in their ambitious curbside program that kicks into gear May 19. Styrofoam and plastic film are included but will have to be taken in to a depot, rather than put out for curbside pickup.

MMBC said in the release that their program is the first of its kind in Canada; "where responsibility for managing the residential recycling of packaging and printed paper has been fully shifted by provincial regulation from local governments and taxpayers to business."

The company lauded Quesnel and Prince George as the latest additions to an impressive list of 67 BC municipalities who've inked deals, including Seabird Island Aboriginal Band.

"Seabird Island came forward and asked to be included in the program and signed an agreement with us," said Allen Langdon, MMBC managing director in a phone interview with the Voice on Monday. "There's 13 First Nations who are part of the program."


In all, the company will provide service to about 1.25 million households across the province.


But Chilliwack opted-out. So did Abbotsford and Hope.

Initially, the City of Chilliwack said no to the recycling plan, then later flip-flopped on that earlier decision. But, by the time they changed their minds, MMBC had already completed its 2014 operating budget and couldn't factor Chilliwack in.

According to Langden, Chilliwack called all the shots, so it was out of MMBC's hands.

Jason Lum, Chilliwack City councillor, disagreed about it being a flip-flop telling the Voice after the council meeting Tuesday, the reason why they didn't opt-in was because the City didn't have enough time to make the decision.

"One of the messages, that just didn't come from the City of Chilliwack, but from a number of municipalities, was there were some concerns about the timelines that were given, in terms of MMBC, and how quickly you had to opt-in."

"There was a deadline from MMBC that was given prior to us getting some information, doing some research around what would happen to some of the material that would be collected under the MMBC, in particular, if it would be used to feed garbage incinerators. We wanted some clarifications on that. So we probably held back in order to do some research on the whole project."

Lum said the City was also concerned about how rates would affect small business.

"There was quite a bit of concern, not just raised by the government, but by this community on MMBC, and on how it would affect rates and small business."

Can all of BC be wrong and Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Hope be right?

Lum says council is looking forward to having MMBC representatives speak to them about the recycling program.

"I would love to see them come out and if we can see the benefit from having a full year where the municipalities have opted into the program, we'll also take that opportunity to talk with those municipalities about how it's worked for them and to see how it's affected business, because I understand quite recently, there was a number of business organizations that have come out with concerns about MMBC. I believe that was a couple of weeks ago even," said Lum.

"If we can do things to increase recycling, absolutely, if we can help businesses along the way, whether we need to be so prescriptive in terms of adding additional fees and costs on the backs of business, I think they've got a point there. MMBC could stand to do some homework at this time in speaking to businesses and I understand what they're pledging to do," he added.

How it works, is that MMBC will pay the 67 local governments to collect the recyclables with amounts paid on a per-ton basis.

Langden says the company has put Chilliwack on a wait list and will be doing a review of their collection system and make a decision over the summer on whether to expand the program or not.

"We represent the producers of printed paper and packaging. So if you're a company that puts printed paper and packaging in the marketplace, then we have an obligation to ensure there's a system in place to recycle that material," noted Langden.

He said typical incentive offers to municipalities include depots for plastic and Styrofoam.

"We're collecting that in a depot because you need to collect it in a segregated stream to ensure it can get recycled," explained Landen. "If it gets collected in the blue box, it often breaks apart and ends up as a residue as opposed to actually being recycled."

MMBC plans on releasing a list of depots sometime in the next month.


Read more about MMBC at www.multimaterialbc.ca


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