B.C. cities vote on joining MMBC recycling system

More flexibility, assurances for councils concerned about switch to industry-controlled blue box program

Surrey Coun. Linda Hepner chairs a Union of B.C. Municipalities committee that has been negotiating with recycling agency MMBC.

Many B.C. city councils are voting this week on whether to sign on to Multi-Material B.C.’s recycling system after the industry stewardship organization made more concessions to address municipal concerns.

Cities face a Nov. 30 deadline to decide whether they will accept incentive payments from MMBC to act as recycling contractors in the new system, even though there are still concerns the money won’t fully cover municipal costs.

The alternatives are to let MMBC launch its own blue box recycling collection with new contractors – replacing the municipal system – or to opt out and keep running the current pickup system without any contributions from MMBC.

Cities had complained for months of intense pressure to sign without knowing the full ramifications of the shift to an industry-controlled recycling system – at one point they had been told they would be frozen out for at least five years if they opted out.

Now cities that opt out will get a chance to reconsider and sign on with MMBC in early 2015.

Surrey Coun. Linda Hepner, chair of a working group on the issue for B.C. municipalities, said that concession lets concerned councils “take a deep breath” and watch how the changes unfold in other cities over the next year before deciding if they want to join.

“Each local government can now make its own decision without feeling pressured that there’s a significant loss if they don’t make that decision immediately.”

Cities can also now cancel the MMBC contract on six months notice.

Hepner also credited MMBC with spelling out more clearly how it will levy penalties on cities – as a last resort only – for repeatedly delivering packaging and printed paper that is too heavily contaminated with other materials.

Cities previously feared contamination fees might devour all their revenue.

Hepner said it’s “disappointing” glass won’t be accepted in blue boxes under the new system – households will be expected to instead take all glass jars and bottles to depots.

Surrey voted on the MMBC offer in a closed council meeting earlier this week and the decision won’t be announced until next week.

Also still deciding are Richmond and Vancouver councils. Burnaby, Nanaimo and Smithers are among the latest municipalities to sign on with MMBC.

The producer pay system mandated by the provincial government makes companies that generate or distribute packaging and printed paper responsible for the full costs of its collection and recycling effective next May.

Small businesses have also been alarmed that they will have to register as stewards and be saddled with onerous reporting duties and high costs of supporting the system.

Canadian Federation of Independent Business spokesman Mike Klassen said the organization is lobbying for higher exemption thresholds so as few small businesses as possible are subject to the new rules.

MMBC so far has agreed to exempt businesses that generate less than a tonne of packaging per year and have annual revenues under $1 million, but the CFIB wants that raised to $5 to $10 million.

Just Posted

B.C. freestyle skier wins gold

Cassie Sharpe of Comox shines in the halfpipe

Lake Country couple to be recognized with heritage award

James, Anita Baker will receive the Central Okanagan Heritage Society’s Distinguished Service Award

Okanagan residents can win ride in army vehicle

A social media campaign offers the chance to win a ride in the Dragoons armoured vehicle

UPDATE: Kelowna snowboarder being mourned at Big White

He was a local snowboarder, who went to Rutland high school.

Reel Reviews: War from both sides of the desk

We say, “Forgive these films their faults and they will be entertaining enough.”

Hope raises thousands for two Kelowna charities

The event Hope in Her Eyes managed to raise more than $17,000 for two Kelowna non-profits

Virtue and Moir end ice dance careers with Olympic gold

Virtue and Moir’s gold medal win at the Olympics makes them the world’s most decorated figure skaters

Canadians find living in small spaces teaches creativity

Canadian families choosing to live in small spaces to bring closeness to children

NDP Health Minister calls to offer woman seat on Interior Health Board

Joyce Beddow-Buckland of Ashcroft was surprised by the call, and accepted the offer.

No decision yet from Sagmoen bail hearing

Provincial court judge is expected to decide next week if Silver Creek man to remain in custody

SAR suspends search for missing man at Sun Peaks

RCMP will continue to search for a missing man near Kamloops but SAR has suspended their role

Vagina Monologues hits the Kelowna stage this week

Okanagan production set to target a hot topic: vaginas

Lottery will help save children’s lives

Each ticket gets you a chance to win a lot of money, while helping a lot of kids

Submit nominations for 2018 Okanagan College Alumni Awards

Deadline for nominations is Wednesday, March 14

Most Read