The Scotch Creek Transfer Station is one of five rural recycling depots within the Columbia Shuswap Regional District that could be financially impacted by changes proposed by RecycleBC. (CSRD image)

The Scotch Creek Transfer Station is one of five rural recycling depots within the Columbia Shuswap Regional District that could be financially impacted by changes proposed by RecycleBC. (CSRD image)

Proposed RecycleBC update cuts funding for rural depots in Columbia Shuswap Regional District

Regional district would have to pick up minimum $90,000 cost to continue services

Next year, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) may be stuck with an estimated $90,000 transportation expense courtesy of RecycleBC.

At its Dec. 9 meeting, the regional district board received a report from environmental health services team leader Ben Van Nostrand regarding the most recent consultation draft of RecycleBC’s Packaging and Paper Product Extended Producer Responsibility Plan. Van Nostrand explained the plan updates are a requirement of the province, and regional districts are asked to provide input. Normally this would be done by staff but, with this latest proposed update, there is language that could, in short, leave the CSRD and other regional districts responsible for the cost of transporting recyclables from nine disposal sites/depots, all within rural areas.

According to a staff report, if the updated plan is adopted as is, the CSRD would be required to fund the transport of RecycleBC materials collected from satellite depots, and for offsetting greenhouse gas emissions for all trips. RecycleBC is currently responsible for both expenses. For transportation alone, staff estimate the regional district would take on a minimum of $90,000 in increased costs to service the existing recycle depot network.

Van Nostrand shared his frustration, noting the CSRD partnered with Recycle BC in 2015 “on the largest depot roll out in B.C. for this program.”

“For them to come back and say we’re looking at reducing the servicing level, it’s frustrating,” said Van Nostrand.

Asked why RecycleBC would be doing this now, Van Nostrand guessed they’re “trying to seek efficiencies on behalf of the stewardship agencies, on behalf of the producers they’re required to serve.”

Operations manager Darcy Mooney offered his own take, explaining B.C. regulation calls for a 75 per cent capture rate on products included in the plan. He suggested now that a lot of stewardship groups have rolled out programs in B.C., that 75 per cent can be captured in urban centres.

“The cost per unit in more of the rural areas is very high,” said Mooney. “If they can meet the regulations and hit the 75 per cent in the urban areas, they’re starting to look at the cost efficiencies in dropping… support for the rural depots.”

Area E director Rhona Martin said this discriminates against rural areas. Revelstoke director and Mayor Gary Sulz argued RecycleBC should be going in the opposite direction and collecting more items.

Read more: CSRD wants commercial paper and packaging accepted for recycling

Read more: Recyclable plastics collected in Shuswap not burned or sent to landfill

“I know it comes down to what they can actually get recycled,” said Sulz. “But if this stuff cannot get recycled, I know it’s going to end up in our landfill and we’re already trying to plan for that.”

The board unanimously supported Van Nostrand’s request that a letter be sent to B.C.’s environment minister highlighting the CSRD’s concerns with the consultation document.

“I’ve been asked to share that letter with members of the BC Products Stewardship Council that I sit on,” said Van Nostrand, explaining the council includes other regional districts. “So we all together have one voice in that this is deeply concerning.”

RecycleBC describes itself as a not-for-profit organization responsible for residential packaging and paper product recycling throughout British Columbia, servicing over two million households or over 99% of BC through curbside, multi-family and/or depot services.


lachlan@saobserver.net
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Columbia Shuswap Regional District