Questions surround incoming recycling changes in B.C.

Kitimat's KUTE recycling depot is unsure how recycling changes will impact their operations.

Director Ken Maitland with Kitimat Understanding the Environment (KUTE) said there are questions that need to be answered regarding possible changes to recycling processing next year.

A shift is taking place in paper and packaging, where instead of taxpayers funding its recycling pick-up, the industries which produced the product will pick up the tab. That will be a service run through the non-profit Multi Material BC(MMBC).

An offer from MMBC has been given to local governments who already collect recyclables or garbage from the curb side, said MMBC Chair Allen Langdon.

Langdon said the offers are to provide recycling collection for the paper and packaging materials, and whoever gets the contract, whether the local government or a private contractor, will be paid on a per-household basis.

While it’s a good sounding plan on paper, the practicality of it may prove challenging for KUTE’s own depot, if that’s where this extra material will go.

“The issue for KUTE is once the materials are collected they have to go someplace, and be sorted, handled, packaged and shipped,” said Maitland.

Although KUTE would be paid for such processing under the MMBC program, their location doesn’t leave a lot of room to participate.

“For the depot, they will be paid a sum for the material processed by weight, tonnage,” he said. “But this program has eight categories, so there’s paper, there’s packaging, there’s grades of cardboard, there’s plastic containers, metal containers, you have to have plastic film being separate, so [there’s] a total of eight of these streams that will come about.”

Keeping in mind the volumes KUTE already deals with, it may be impossible.

“At this point, they haven’t defined what … a load looks like, so when KUTE deals with material today, we need to ship single strand material, so I need to ship a truckload of 20 tonnes, 22 tonnes, of cardboard,” explained Maitland. “I have to have the same volume in paper. So because we’re running the cardboard and the paper, you now have to stockpile 20 tonnes each. So now you have to store 40 tonnes of material, plus the truck doesn’t come as soon as you have that, so you have to have some buffer space.”

What KUTE doesn’t know yet is how material has to be packaged before shipping. For instance he doesn’t know if they can ship out mixed loads, or if they have to send out loads of the same product. If they have to store 20 tonnes each of those eight streams of materials “now instead of being a processing centre, you’re a warehouse.”

“You have to have a huge facility,” he said.

Other questions KUTE hasn’t yet had answers to is how many truck loads of garbage goes to the landfill each day, a number which would help them figure out how much material they’d be expecting.

The upcoming recycling programs may also have other costs. Plastic wrap recycling would have to be baled in a specialized baler, which Maitland said is estimated to cost about $100,000.

“For the volume of material that we would collect, you would never be able to justify that kind of money,” he said.

He said that there’s a deadline in September this year for the District of Kitimat to decide whether or not they want to enter into a deal with MMBC to collect the materials. If not, MMBC will likely look to private contractors to do that work.

Langdon told the Sentinel that whoever gets contracted for the pick-up could look at curbside pick-up or depot drop-off services such as we already have now.

He said in the fall MMBC would do a request for proposals for processing or collection of the material. In practice, a collector would take the material to a central point and from there the processor would manage the material to wherever it needs to be sent. That would all be contracted through MMBC.

Maitland theorized that there’s a possibility a more regional depot could be built to support the new program, especially in light of the fact that the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine is looking in to a recycling pick-up program, he said.

“You have three communities within 60km of each other, and if you read the Multi Material BC guidelines, they’re suggesting that a depot could be within 60km of the regional boundaries, so all three of these areas would be within that bubble,” he said. “So if you were to build a central depot, you could have one site…handling material from all three.”

The District of Kitimat’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Warren Waycheshen said that staff has in the past been directed to work with KUTE on recycling options, and at the June 24 committee of the whole meeting were instructed again to meet with KUTE to prepare a plan for the 2014 MMBC changes for recycling pick up.

Staff are also looking at MMBC’s stewardship plan and will work on having several options to present to Kitimat Council ahead of the September 16 deadline to decide.