Recycle rollout needs clarity

The idea is to encourage printed paper and packaging recycling, while at the same time getting industry and end-users to pay for it.

I hope it was clear from our coverage this week of the recycling issue that Village of Burns Lake (VBL) council has not made any binding decision regarding curbside recycling, or any other kind of recycling.

I mention this because the subject of curbside recycling is bound to provoke much discussion across a broad range of opinion in Burns Lake.

All council has done is make sure that Burns Lake remains eligible for financial assistance from a provincial agency should the village decide to move ahead with some kind of printed paper and packaging (PPP) recycling program.

This prudent decision to keep options open will have to be followed upon quickly though. Multi Material Management B.C. (MMBC) expects binding contracts in place early enough for collection to begin in May, 2014. Had you heard of MMBC before today? I’ll confess that I hadn’t heard of it before the council meeting where VBL staff introduced council to the work both the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) and the VBL have done regarding the MMBC offer of financial assistance to implement PPP recycling.

The idea is to encourage printed paper and packaging recycling, while at the same time getting industry and end-users to pay for it.

Currently, the cost of recycling is buried in the general cost of waste management. For example, the costs associated with those recycle bins at the landfill are included in your taxation.

It’s not clear how the new scenario would tease out those costs and assign them to industry and users. Start-up costs would be carried by the municipality – your tax dollars – and MMBC funding will eventually expire, leaving operational costs entirely on the shoulders of local government.

Diverting material from the landfill might mean a lower annual waste management budget on the part of the RDBN, thereby reducing the tax burden. Maybe Burns Lake will only need bi-weekly garbage pick-up because we’ll be recycling half our waste every other week. That would at least suggest a break-even scenario for operational costs, with recycling collection done one week and regular collection done the next.

There is some head-scratching that goes along with this rushed offer from MMBC.

When, exactly, does the cost of this program end up on the shoulders of industry and the consumer as opposed to the taxpayer, and how?

If it truly does end up being an industry-pay and user-pay system, then it makes good sense. We should be held responsible for the excessive packaging we face/demand every day. The consumer who demands it, and the industry that provides it, should pay for it.

This isn’t to say that economics should drive recycling. We might have good reasons to implement recycling at the municipal and regional levels, even if it costs the taxpayer money. Just like we have good reason to control air pollution, even if there’s no immediate economic benefit or relief.

It makes sense to force users and producers to pay for their excess.  Why should recycling-conscious tax payers subsidize the wasteful habits of less concerned neighbours? It might even make sense to subsidize PPP recycling through tax dollars, for the sake of a greener municipality. But which one is it; is this a potentially costly move towards a greener Burns Lake or a tax relief?

If we’re moving towards a kind of sin tax on trashing recyclable material, then we should just call it that instead of dressing it up like a proposal to ease the tax burden.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Dupras family has been regulars at the Babine River and have seen plentiful grizzlies over the years. (Jay Dupras photo/Lakes District News)
A family’s close encounter with a grizzly on Babine River bridge

Photo-enthusiasts let the bear access the bridge for photos putting others at risk

Vehicles waiting for the highway to reopen. (Shashank Bangera photo/Lakes District News)
Vehicle incident claims life on Highway 16 east of Burns Lake

The accident resulted in highway closure

The victim of a homicide in Houston is Pietro Adamo. (Photo courtesy the RCMP)
Man dies from injuries following assault

Investigators looking for information on this homicide

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

(Wet'suwet'en Access Point on Gidimt'en Territory Facebook screenshot)
Ceremony a right at proposed CGL pipeline drill site: BC Union of Indian Chiefs

Indigenous land defenders cannot be criminalized and targeted, argues UBCIC

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan arrives at Luxton Hall to cast their votes in advance polls for the provincial election in Langford, B.C., Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Pandemic election prompts voter suppression claims by B.C. Liberals

‘These emergencies require in us a maturity that has been lacking in politics for so long’

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of possibly decades-old airplane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of UBC geoscientists discovered the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

A injection kit is seen inside the newly opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. records 127 fatal overdoses in September, roughly 4 each day

Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria continued to see the highest numbers of overdoses

Most Read