Thursday, March 20, 2014
The Trouble with Trash
City of Chilliwack has concerns with MMBC recycle
Trash receptacles in the lobby at Chilliwack
City Hall Tuesday.
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
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
"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
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