A Kamloops city councillor and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District want Recycle BC to accept industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) recycling.
Recycle BC has arrangements with a small number of depots in the province to collect ICI recycling, but has halted allowing additional municipalities to add on the service — an idea floated at both city hall and at the TNRD.
The TNRD said that, as of May 2019, Recycle BC “unexpectedly stopped.”
Coun. Kathy Sinclair called it a step backwards.
“They [Recycle BC] said they may do it in future, but they need to reconsider,” Sinclair said. “So, basically, throughout the TNRD and here in Kamloops, Recycle BC will no longer take any business recycling anymore, at all. So, we’re really going backwards. We say we have a growing problem. We have seen the federal [government] move to rectify that on a residential sector basis, but we have a real issue.”
Sinclair said Kamloops’ waste stream is 60 per cent commercial, industrial and institutional, amounting to a larger problem that residential.
TNRD manager of environmental services Jamie Vieira said that when the TNRD signed on with Recycle BC last year, its contract — residential only — included the option to opt into ICI recycling at a cost of $60,000 annually. That option has since been taken off the table.
“There was an option with the contract that said if you want to take ICI recycling, we will let you do that, but you will not get paid for it and you have to pay us,” Vieiera said.
“TNRD would have to pay Recycle BC because that’s not within their responsibility. That was the decision three months ago or two months ago, the board made, saying yes, we want to pay the extra money so we can provide this service to our residents. So, then, we went to Recycle BC and said we want to take this option that’s clearly written in the contract and they came back to us just a few weeks ago and said actually we changed our mind, that’s not an option any more.”
Recycle BC maintains ICI is not included within its program and that it never had an arrangement with the TNRD.
“We totally appreciate that there’s interest on the part of some municipalities and regional districts to start having us accept these materials. They’re not part of our program plan and what we’re doing right now is we’re taking the time to fully evaluate the issue,” Recycle BC spokesperson Dave Lefebvre told KTW.
Asked why Recycle BC cannot accept Kamloops and TNRD ICI recycling, Lefebvre cited issues with contamination and global markets.
A staff report going before the TNRD board on Thursday notes ICI recycling “continues to be a challenge in most areas of the province due to poor market conditions and lack of private sector collection options. Local governments are faced with either directing ICI recycling into landfills or setting up separate collection programs for ICI materials.”
Sinclair made a notice of motion during Tuesday’s regular city council meeting, requesting the Union of BC Municipalities to lobby the province to amend recycling regulations to include ICI in its extended producer responsibility plans for packaging and printed paper. Sinclair attended the Recycling Council of BC Conference about a month ago, where she said it became clear political pressure was needed. Her motion will be debated next week.
“I think we’ll find a lot of support if this does go to UBCM resolution because every municipality is in the same boat and the city could create an ICI recycling program ourselves, but it’s going to be extremely costly and one of the reasons we went with Recycle BC was that over a longer term it prevents us from having to take on that piece,” she said.
Meanwhile, TNRD staff will on Thursday also recommend to the board political pressure — a letter to the BC Minister of Environment George Heyman urging ICI recycling be added to the BC Recycling Regulation, a meeting request with Heyman at this fall’s Union of BC Municipalities convention and a letter to the Recycle BC chair and board of directors asking reconsideration of the decision.
Also on the table is a costly alternative for the TNRD to accept ICI paper and containers — plastic, tin and other containers currently accepted in the residential stream — at TNRD disposal facilities. Vieira said the TNRD can truck the materials to Vancouver at a cost of between $200 to $400 per tonne on behalf of the regional district, compared to $80 per tonne to bring it to the landfill. Residents would be charged $80 for ICI recycling, meaning the TNRD would offer the service at a loss.
“We’re trying to have a sustainable, long-term waste reduction plan,” Vieira said. “Our waste-reduction program, our full waste-management goal is to reduce the waste to landfill and divert as much as we can. We’re seeing this expense as an interim measure in hope that it will become part of the regulated material.”