Regional district also unsure what recycling future holds

Recycling changes set for next year may change the whole system.

Margaret Kujat, the environmental services coordinator for the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, says the recycling future in the Terrace and Kitimat area is going to be in “limbo” for a little while as everyone comes to grips with the Multi Material BC (MMBC) program.

MMBC will later this year be issuing requests for proposals for collection and processing of paper and packaging material for recycling, in many places meaning a curbside pick-up of the material.

The program, which is a shift that means industries will be taking on the cost burden of collecting the recycling material rather than taxpayers, has been raising questions that not many seem to have an answer for.

Those questions include who will be in charge of the material — municipalities have until September 16 to decide if they want to take on the duties — and where the material will go.

While Kitimat’s KUTE recycling depot would make sense, there are concerns that they don’t have the space to take on all the new material. (See Sentinel, July 10.)

Kujat said the regional district is considering a recycling pick up program for the greater Terrace area, which she said will hopefully align with programs from the City of Terrace.

“People are quite keen to divert and recycle what they can, and the only thing that ends up in the landfill is the stuff that can’t be diverted, ie: sewage pumpage, or the odd bit or bob that has to go to the landfill,” she said.

A regional district pick-up program, which would be planned to go as far south as Lakelse, would coincide with the opening of a regional landfill at Forceman Ridge, when Terrace and Thornhill’s landfill close. Thornhill is slated to become a transfer station.

The transfer station in Thornhill would hopefully have a recycling component built into it, she said.

“That’s the plan, but we’re rolling out this integrated plan because you can’t talk about one thing without talking about the others,” she said. “If we don’t integrate recycling, what will people do with it?”

She agrees with many of the concerns raised by Ken Maitland in the paper last week. A solution has to be found as to where the recycling products can go.

“Anything that’s on that MMBC list, the person who does the bid…well, you’re expected to take it all, including the Styrofoam and the toothpaste tubes…that’s a huge, huge facility. Where do we find a piece of real estate like that?” she said. “There’s just all kinds of logistics that may not occur to those who wrote this thing who originate in the south.”

Figuring out how all the components will work is crucial to developing a plan so the area doesn’t wind up with two different recycling depots.

As confusing as it is, it could be a good plan, she said.

“We think it’s going to be a convenient solution for people, if we pick up their refuse in addition to some component of a recycling portion,” she said.

Yet it will be quite the learning curve.

“I think any municipality you talk to is wrestling with this,” she said. “What I’ve heard in some feedback is many communities have been integrated into the Blue Box system for a very long time and have their citizens trained to use their Blue Boxes. Well guess what, when this MMBC thing comes down the pipe that changes that. The Blue Box system goes out the window.”

She said a regional approach may be Kitimat’s best bet moving forward as it deals with how to work out recycling issues. Kitimat has always stood alone because it already has a great system, she said, noting the existence of KUTE, a landfill, and having people at the landfill who are good at helping people divert materials from the landfill.

“Maybe Kitimat will eventually opt towards that [collaborative] direction because it may become easier, more convenient…I think for awhile we’re going to be in limbo.”

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