During a Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) waste management committee on Nov. 4, options were discussed on how to move forward with metal salvaging for the next two years.
In 2017, the RDBN board of directors passed a motion that banned salvaging of metal at all RDBN transfer stations and landfills. Since then, they’ve seen a significant increase in contract revenue. Unlike wood, metal generates revenue through recycling, and metal that is collected at the sites are recycled every two years.
In the two year period of 2015 and 2016 prior to the ban, the total revenue generated from recycling contracts was $52,0861. Since the ban, in the two year period of 2017 and 2018, that revenue grew to $223,594. In the latest two year period of 2019 and 2020, that number more than doubled, rising to $467,802.
The RDBN waste committee recommended to the board to maintain the ban from 2017, because the financial benefits are quite easy to see. Despite the rise in recycling revenue, this recommendation was met with lots of push back from board members, due to the fact that many believe tax-paying residents who are good with their hands have a right to salvage metal to help with day to day projects and life.
Director of Electoral Area G Chris Newell was one of the board members who brought up this point. “It’s not always about money, being able to salvage and reuse is a fundamental part of sustainable use. A majority of that metal is ground up, sent to China, and then sold back to us, so if we can keep some of that locally then I believe it’s a better scenario,” said Newell.
Several other directors voiced personal experiences of salvaging for their own use for things like building bikes or fixing gates on properties, and how important it is for people to at least have the option to do so.
It was also noted however, that sometimes allowing the free access to the public to salvage can cause conflicts between people fighting over products. Furthermore, the right to freely salvage gets abused when people go to landfills multiple times a day and deplete the stock of metal.
It was ultimately decided that a more discussion was needed on the topic to find a way to maintain increased revenue from metal recycling, while still allowing for some salvaging for local residents. The topic will be brought back in a future meeting.
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