The way packaging and printed paper (PPP) are recycled in B.C. could see some big changes in the coming year, changes that may have huge implications for recycling companies around the province.
A non-profit society called Multi-Material BC (MMBC) was established last year to create and implement a new stewardship plan based on producer responsibility — similar to what happens with electronics. MMBC submitted its PPP stewardship plan to the Ministry of Environment on Nov. 19 and since then, private business, recycling companies and local governments have been struggling to see how they will fit in with the program. The Ministry signed this regulation into effect in 2011. This is not an industry-led issue, rather an issue brought on by the provincial government.
The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) has had lots of discussion on the matter and now Gibsons council is continuing the discussion. At the March 5 Gibsons council meeting, Buddy Boyd from Gibsons Recycling Depot appeared as a delegate to provide information about the potential implications this PPP system could have on their business, similar recycling businesses in other communities and simply recycling in general.
“It is not going to be the curbside recycling program that we first all thought. Basically it’s going to be run by monopolies,” Boyd said. “If this comes into play, there is no opportunity to create local employment opportunities and this program will be a job killer. We won’t be getting better packaging out of this. We’re in shock. We can’t believe what is happening.”
Boyd said MMBC is looking more and more like another disposal operation.
“The one thing we have noticed is that this proposed system is not making us sustainable and not making us zero waste,” he said. “Everything we buy going forward will have an additional cost to help pay for this system. Rural and remote communities will be really affected by this. This program means that it’s OK to pass it down, and just kick the can down the road. That’s just unacceptable to me.”
Boyd said he is hoping that municipal governments like the Town of Gibsons, SCRD and District of Sechelt will help champion this cause and push the provincial government to take another look at the program.
“We’re not saying dump the program altogether. What we’re saying is to stop the program and take a sober second look and talk with all the recyclers in the province,” Boyd said. “If we get this PPP packaging system the way it is written now, it might put a lot of recyclers out of business.”
Mayor Wayne Rowe said governments would be faced with making some tough decisions very soon and thanked Boyd for the information.
“Tonight is not the night for debate, but we can’t ignore it,” Rowe said. “I know we have been talking about this at the SCRD, but my plan is to convene our own meeting here with our council and probably invite you for technical knowledge to make sure we have the right information to present the right options that might be a fit for our community.”
Boyd said he would be happy to be a part of any further discussion. “There are a lot of recyclers in British Columbia incredibly worried about what’s coming. We need to work together to come up with a viable solution for everyone,” he said.