No clear decision for council on recycling changes

A new recycling program for B.C. is impacting municipalities across the province.

A major overhaul to how recycling is collected and processed in the province has left councillors, and even waste management specialists in the community, scratching their heads on how to proceed.

The Multi Material BC (MMBC) program, which shifts the cost burden of recycling collection for packaging and printed paper processing from taxpayers to consumers and industry, could potentially bring in curbside recycling, or some other alternative.

(This is the program discussed which was reported on in the Sentinel, July 10 and July 17.)

Kitimat Council had their first crack at the issue during an orientation presentation and discussion at a special meeting of council on August 12.

In short, the implementation of MMBC’s programs — whichever one is accepted — will go into effect May 19, 2014, and council has until September 16 to decide what to do.

But the program, at least according to Norm DeLong, owner of Kitimat Valley Disposal, one of the waste manager experts council invited to speak on August 12, leaves more questions than answer on how everything will play out.

And he said that if MMBC goes to a request for proposal process for recycling collection — an option if the District declines — he said he wouldn’t even try bidding on it, with the economics just not making any sense.

DeLong explained that with MMBC’s offer of approximately $32 per household in Kitimat, it would account for about $136,000 per year provided by MMBC.

However there are many fees within that amount, including administration costs, which would lower the amount drastically, to the point it would hardly make any sense.

Plus there are a number of record keeping requirements and strict limits placed on the program, which if not adhered to could cost thousands in fines.

For instance if the material delivered to a depot under this program contains more than three per cent of weight of material not accepted in the program, there is a $5,000 fine per load.

Also, failure to provide a report to MMBC on time means a $500 fine, per day, past deadline.

Continuing with the explanation on costs, DeLong said that with just a single stream of recycling waste — meaning not sorted — the bags themselves that households would receive would cost $30,000.

“So take that off your $136,000 and we’re down to $106,000. We haven’t talked about hiring anybody yet to go out there, to buy a new truck, fuel, wages, any of that kind of thing,” he said.

“Really for us to be a collection agency, there’s no way I could bid on it if the revenue was only going to be $136,000, honestly I wouldn’t want it.”

Also talked about by DeLong and by Kitimat’s Deputy CAO Warren Waycheshen was the fact that while MMBC would cover mileage, it seems they’d only cover 60km, meaning the return trip to Kitimat for anybody wouldn’t be covered if any depot were to be based in Terrace.

“We don’t know where it’s [the depot] going to be located,” said Waycheshen.

Ken Maitland, a director for KUTE, said that the economics don’t work in KUTE’s favour either, and that KUTE wouldn’t sign on to participate in the program.

He notes that special equipment would be needed for some of the new material they would take in under the MMBC program, and that’s money that would have to come from somewhere.

That said, KUTE is appreciative of the fact that the new program means residential cardboard will be diverted, a major cause of the organization’s current backlog.

“I don’t see that we can win with this circumstance. So it’s not something KUTE would take on.”

Andy Towse, the operator of the Kitimat Landfill, said “I don’t think you need to be a mathematician to see that you need to put a lot of money into it.”

The proposed contract terms from MMBC would be a five year agreement with an option for a two year extension.

The costs that MMBC would cover were determined by consultations with 23 local governments, said Waycheshen, but he wasn’t able to determine which communities those were.

Allen Langdon, MMBC chairperson, said that the organization cannot disclose which communities were involved in establishing the costs.

He said once it’s established who’ll collect the material in Kitimat, whether by the town or privately, MMBC will issue another RFP for who’ll receive the materials.

“That process, we will need to work out the logistics of how we’ll get the material from Kitimat to wherever their material recycling facility is,” he said. “We probably won’t know who the processor is until the end of January.

Establishing a depot is an option that the town can recommend to MMBC.

Staff estimates that even with the $137,000 incentive they’d receive, the program would cost the town about $200,000 a year, including the cost of a new collection truck.