The Regional District of Central Kootenay has significant concerns regarding proposed recycling changes scheduled to roll out in May 2014.
The new product stewardship program for “Packaging and Printed Paper” (PPP) will shift the responsibility of recycling collection for all PPP from governments and their taxpayers to industry and their consumers.
“It is an essential and important program for the residents of our region, and for anybody in B.C. for that matter,” said Uli Wolf, general manager of environmental services for the RDCK. “It will be a major shift, so anytime something big like this goes down and service delivery changes, it is of concern.”
Wolf spoke to the Castlegar News by telephone from Nelson on Friday, July 19.
The RDCK will get the opportunity to accept an offer to continue to provide recycling services at a certain rate paid to them, but Wolf said that is where concerns start.
“Not all conditions under which we would operate there depots and curb side contracts are known to us yet,” said Wolf. “Yet we are supposed to make a decision to accept or reject the offer to continue to provide these services.”
Wolf said beyond the unknowns, the biggest concern for continued delivery through the RDCK is that specifications for any future depots require they be fenced and staffed.
“Most of our locations are currently unstaffed and unfenced and don’t lend themselves to that service,” he said.
To make such depots financially feasible, either a lot of money or massively restricting the hours would be required, said Wolf.
The RDCK has been in contact with the product stewardship group overseeing the program and insisted existing service levels could, or should not, drop as part of transferring the recycling system to industry.
“We currently provide convenient household recycling programs, both curbside and depots for our residents,” said John Kettle, board chair in a press release July 19. “The RDCK is concerned about this new program and how it will address service in rural areas. Although it may be unfair to paint all Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs with the same brush, we are skeptical that this program will adequately service our regional district.”
Approximately 60 per cent of the area’s population (36,000 residents) live in rural areas, according to information provide by the RDCK.
“We would prefer more flexibility in the delivery of this program by the stewards in the form that they recognize how programs are currently delivered in rural areas and how they can be delivered in the future without any loss of future to rural residents,” said Wolf.
He added if existing depots disappear, it may become more difficult for residents to access new facilities, something that could lead to more recyclables entering the landfill instead.
The RDCK is currently investigating how this program will affect existing RDCK recycling programs and will provide ore information when appropriate.