Recycling changes mean lower costs but tougher rules

Recycling changes are coming to the Tri-Cities in 2014 with Multi Material BC taking over responsibility and some of the costs. - FILE PHOTO
Recycling changes are coming to the Tri-Cities in 2014 with Multi Material BC taking over responsibility and some of the costs.
— image credit: FILE PHOTO

Recycling changes are coming for Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody residents in 2014 but some cities will see more changes than others when Multi-Material BC takes over responsibility for packaging materials like plastic, cans and bottles.

Port Moody and Port Coquitlam have signed a deal with MMBC that takes effect in May and will see the cities collect recyclables using their own trucks and staff while MMBC pays them an "incentive" fee to cover some of the costs.

In Coquitlam, MMBC will hire its own contractor to do the job and will pay the contractor directly, at no cost to taxpayers.

The impact of these changes means householders will pay less for recyclables — in Coquitlam, they won't pay anything for recycling — with MMBC picking up the tab.

The change is welcomed by Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, who thinks it's about time industry takes responsibility for its packaging.

"They have a legal responsibility to pick up and deliver this material and we want to work with them," Moore said.

Here's how it works:

• In Port Moody, MMBC will pay the city $191,000 in 2014 (a partial year) and $330,000 in 2015 to collect recyclables on its behalf. This will mean lower annual recycling fees for residents — about $14 less for single-family homes and $30 less for multi-family homes in 2014, with greater reductions in 2015.

• In PoCo, MMBC will pay $550,000 in 2014 and $600,000 in 2015, and residents won't see any hike to their waste collection fees as revenue from MMBC helps to offset costs.

• In Coquitlam, the city estimates waste collection costs will drop from about $6 million to $3.7 million, with MMBC taking over responsibility for recyclables, but the city will still pay about $5 million for carts for its new automated system, which will be amortized over several years and paid for through utility fees, and thus likely offset some of the savings in recycling costs.

As for glass, MMBC will be responsible for glass that can't be returned for a deposit — as it is for all the other packaging — but wants glass separated out from the paper, plastic and can recyclables. In PoMo, where homeowners are used to putting glass in their recycling carts, this will be a change and they will have to take glass to a depot, where it will be handled by the contractor chosen by MMBC.

In Port Coquitlam, residents already separate their glass and take it to recycling depot.

In Coquitlam, meanwhile, it's not yet known how MMBC plans to handle glass but changes will likely occur in July at the same time the new automated garbage system is rolled out, with BFI Canada Inc. handling trash and organic waste collection.



For Moore, who initially had reservations about the MMBC program, the switch to an industry stewardship group taking over responsibility for consumer packaging is welcome news.

"We want to see them succeed," said Moore, who said the program is a model for others across the country. But he admits the "incentive" MMBC  pays his city doesn't cover the costs, and he hopes the group will up its game in future years.

"As they become more experts, they'll look to make sure we're whole," he predicted.

In Port Moody, MMBC incentives also don't cover all the costs because of the cost of maintenance and fuel for city trucks.

As well, fines for contamination rates above 3% are also a concern and both cities have set aside some of the revenue from the MMBC "incentives" to cover emergencies. Coquitlam will likely have to do the same.

Moore acknowledged that MMBC is willing to work with the cities and will only charge fines as a last resort after spot-checks and audits over a six-month process.

"They are not there to penalize," said Moore. "They are there to get the best quality commodity product that they can."


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