• Wednesday , 29 June 2022

Recycle BC decision to make

Joanne Layh

Should we stay or should we go? That’s the question Peachland administration and the RDCO will ask of council this summer, when the regional district reaches the deadline to decide if their current partnership with Recycle BC should be renewed.

Recycle BC is a stewardship program for residential packaging and paper products that is funded entirely by producers.

Through the existing partnership the municipality contracts E360S to collect recyclables while the RDCO provides education and administration.

“We have historically chosen to administer the program on Recycle BC’s behalf, acting as a contractor because the funding agreement covered all curbside recycling expenses and provided some surplus revenue that funded special recycling initiatives,” RDCO manager of engineering services Travis Kendel told council at their last regular meeting. 

If the municipality chooses to discontinue the current partnership, the alternative is that Recycle BC does it all.

It is worth consideration because under the current partnership local service providers face several challenges, including contamination financial penalties up to $60,000 per year.

“Last year Recycle BC formalized a contamination plan requirements that for the first time included very specific reduction targets that if not met may result in financial penalties of up to $60,000 per year in Peachland,” said Kendel. “While the RDCO, in collaboration with Peachland staff, have put forth very strong and leading practices to reduce contamination, the RDCO and the solid waste technical advisory committee expects that Recycle BC will be positioned this year to pursue those financial penalties.”  

July 2022 is the RDCO’s deadline to make a decision, although the current agreement doesn’t expire until Dec. 31, 2024.

If no change is requested, the status quo will remain for approximately the next seven years.

“If we do collectively choose to end that partnership and request that Recycle BC administer the program directly, no change will occur until at least 2025,” said Kendel.

The regional solid waste management plan requires that prior to renewing their contract the option of handing over responsibility to Recycle BC be given consideration, and specifically that costs and benefits be considered as part of the overall decision making process.

Under the current agreement Peachland collects surplus revenue of approximately $2,000 per month. If the town were to be penalized for contamination, the funding obtained through Recycle BC would likely not be sufficient to maintain the existing curbside recycling program, warned Kendel.

If service were expanded to include additional curbside commodities such as glass, an additional $59,000 in funding would be required. If penalties were also imposed by Recycle BC after expanding curbside service to include something like glass, additional funding would increase from $59,000 to approximately $119,000. 

Alternatively, Recycle BC could administer the service directly, which would adjust the funding requirement to $0 and could still include curbside glass collection, as that is something that’s already offered by Recycle BC in all of the communities that they service directly, said Kendel.

However, a change in the partnership between the RDCO and Recycle BC could affect the way recycling is managed in Peachland and might impact customer satisfaction.

According to public engagement conducted earlier this year, those surveyed regionally expressed 91 per cent satisfaction with the existing curbside recycling service (100 per cent satisfaction was reported in Peachland specifically, although Kendel said the results were small enough in nature not to be statistically valid). 

The Solid Waste Technical Advisory Committee, a group of technical experts comprised of staff from the RDCO and all member municipalities, concluded that the partnership with Recycle BC has been very beneficial to our region, said Kendel. 

“They’ve also concluded that the potential for financial penalties and our continued efforts towards contamination reduction hinder our overall waste reduction progress,” he added.

The advisory committee recommends that as a region we should focus our resources on waste reduction (reuse and recycling), Kendel said.

“I know that we’ve worked this way for a long time and 91 per cent of our residents are satisfied with it, and it’s proven to work very well. On the other side, I think it’s necessary for us to start getting rid of our glass here in town,” said Coun. Patrick Van Minsel. “It is a good option for us so I’m a little conflicted by the two. If we decide to go with Recycle BC there would be no other costs for Peachland.”

Coun. Keith Fielding asked how many different baskets people would be asked to sort if Recycle BC managed the program.

Kendel said there would be separate containers for paper and containers under Recycle BC and whether there would be a third container would depend on how far Recycle BC is willing to go with glass.

Items like styrofoam and flexible plastics would continue to be depot-only materials.

Coun. Mike Kent said he is familiar with both programs and in his experience having one bin is more convenient.

He said he would like to see educational stickers on every bin to help prevent contamination and reduce the likelihood of fines being levied on any municipality.

Mayor Fortin said she also prefers having just one recycling container.

The RDCO is currently in the process of consulting with member municipalities ahead of the deadline to make a decision about the partnership. Next month district administration and the RDCO will return to council to request a decision regarding the Recycle BC partnership in Peachland.

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