Burns Lake’s bottle depot is one of four facilities in the regional district that accepts both beverage containers and used electronics for recycling.

Burns Lake’s bottle depot is one of four facilities in the regional district that accepts both beverage containers and used electronics for recycling.

Review of Encorp Pacific’s Return-It new work

Encorp Pacific president gives presentation to the regional district regarding Encorp’s Return-It program in the area.

Bottle return depots in the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) have exceeded the minimum requirements of the recycling regulations in the stewardship plan signed by Encorp Pacific (Canada).

According to president and chief operating executive of Encorp Pacific (Canada), Scott Fraser, who gave a presentation at the RDBN board of directors meeting last Thursday, the RDBN is on par with the average of the province, ahead of regions, such as Metro Vancouver.

There are six return depots in the regional district, located in Vanderhoof, Fort St. James, Burns Lake, Houston and Smithers, and collectively the recovery rate for the six facilities is 80.1 per cent, above the 75 per cent minimum requirement.

The recovery rate is calculated from the percentage of returns of plastic, aluminum, glass, paperboard and other recyclable materials from across the region.

The Northern region, which includes the RDBN, of Encorp accounted for eight per cent of total volume collected in 2013, and the regional district itself accounted for one per cent of the total volume collected in 2013.

Throughout the province in 2013, Encorp’s 172 independently owned depots, along with its locations in over 350 grocery stores and over 200 B.C. liquor stores collected over one billion containers.

That equates to a total of 95,000 metric tonnes of beverage containers plus an additional 25,000 tonnes of electronics.

Of the six depots in the RDBN, four,Fraser Lake, Burns Lake, Houston and Smithers, accept electronics for recycling at their depots, along with beverage containers.

Locations in Vanderhoof and Fort St. James only accept beverage containers at the moment.

Encorp Pacific (Canada) is part of the Stewardship Agencies of B.C., a 16 member agency that works collectively to ensure B.C.’s Extended Producer Responsibility model is successful and cost effective.

Other members include, Multi Material B.C. (MMBC) and the Canadian Battery Association.

While Encorp’s program has been successful in the regional district, there were concerns raised by a couple of directors.

Vanderhoof mayor, Gerry Thiessen was concerned that minimum standards at the return depot in his community weren’t being met, specifically hours of operation.

“I’ve been told when it comes to this contract that it’s so tight you can’t get out of it,” Thiessen said, “Yet when it comes to minimum standards there doesn’t seem to be a meeting spot.”

“The people of Vanderhoof would like to be able to know what level to expect, people are frustrated they pack up their bottles and then the bottle depot is closed.”

Unfortunately for Thiessen and his community minimum standards were not written into the original contract with the depot in Vanderhoof.

“Standards have become higher over the years, but we don’t have a tool to retroactively apply them, so it has be persuasion from all sides and that’s what we can continue to work with,” Fraser said, “We’ve looked at every angle on it, there is no legal action we can take.”

Likewise, the mayor of Smithers, Taylor Bachrach was concerned about the curb side pick up now being conducted in his community by Multi Materials B.C.

Beverage containers that are thrown into the MMBC containers are considered contaminated and are unable to be picked out of the container.

It’s causing the owner of the depot to lose money, while it allows MMBC to profit off of those losses.

“They’ve been taught that beverage containers are recyclables and we just gave them these huge recycling bins with a recycling symbol on the side and they’re hulking their recyclable containers in the bin and then that counts against us because they’re considered contamination [for MMBC recyclables] and we’re not allowed to take them out,” Bachrach said, “How are we going to fix that problem?”

Bachrach suggested that his community could attach a smaller container or bag to the larger MMBC ones where his community members could throw their beverage containers.

Fraser agreed that an idea like that would be practical.

“I really like that idea,” Fraser said, “I would double check the contract but I believe MMBC takes control of the materials when it’s in the blue box, so if there’s a separate system for beverage containers as long as they’re not in the blue box I don’t believe there’s an issue.”