Cities have plenty of unanswered questions about the future of curbside blue box recycling.

Cities await answers on business-led recycling plan

Blue box shakeup dogged by questions as deadline looms

B.C.’s newspaper industry, after threatening to bail out of a huge revamp of the blue box recycling system, is now back on board and the initiative may stay on track for a planned 2014 launch.

But cities remain deeply concerned about how the recycling system shakeup will unfold and councillors peppered industry reps with questions at a workshop session Thursday at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Victoria.

The province is requiring retailers, grocers and newspapers through the stewardship group Multi Material BC to take responsibility for collecting and recycling printed paper and packaging of every type.

It greatly expands blue box recycling and forces those producers who create all packaging waste to bear the costs of dealing with it, and hopefully spur them to design greener packages.

Multi Material BC officials say they don’t plan to create their own rival collection systems, but will likely contract with either cities, non-profits or private recyclers to use what already exists.

That still leaves civic reps wondering what the final system will look like and whether their budgets and citizens will make sacrifices due to unremitted costs or reduced curbside services.

“What I see here is a huge amount of instability,” New Westminster Coun. Bill Harper said. “It’s quite an untenable situation.”

His city has just paid for new trucks to handle single-stream recycling pickup – where all materials go in the same bin instead of being sorted by households – and wonders if taxpayers will be reimbursed for those costs.

“Who’s going to subsidize that? Probably nobody.”

Other questions voiced at UBCM include whether union contracts will be broken and whether recycling programs will all be forced to go to single-streaming or to separated systems.

“Who is responsible for illegal dumping?” asked Stacey Barker, the Fraser Valley Regional District’s environmental services manager and UBCM rep on the packaging issue.

“There are many questions.”

An added complication is the tight timeline for consultation.

Cities may see a draft by late October of the proposed system, leaving little time for input before the Nov. 19 deadline for Multi Material BC to submit its plan to the province.

The organization recently asked for a one-year extension but environment minister Terry Lake said he has not yet granted the request and wants to stick to the schedule.

Efforts were delayed because the Canadian Newspaper Association, whose members generate 30 per cent of the material collected via blue boxes, stepped away from Multi Material BC to consider whether it could mount its own program but is now expected to rejoin.

“There’s a desire to work together on a single plan, as opposed to have two different plans,” Multi Material BC chair Allen Langdon said.

Metro Vancouver board chair Greg Moore said it’s critical the material collected actually be recycled and not just become another garbage disposal system.

He said cities that have invested heavily in recycling to achieve a high diversion rate don’t want to see any backsliding.

“Many local governments have amazing recycling programs,” Lake said. “The last thing we want to do is upset the apple cart.”

Multi Material BC would target residential recycling first, then businesses, industry and insttitutions later.

It estimates 50 to 57 per cent of the material it will collect is now recycled and aims to boost that to 75 per cent, but has no specific timeline for doing that.

UBCM has pressed for a more ambitious target.

Some cities also want the new system to cover not just residential pickup but material dropped in bins in parks, sidewalks and other public spaces,

UBCM passed a Richmond-sponsored resolution Thursday urging the province to force the stewardship group to pay cities to provide the expanded blue box service for packaging.

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

Just Posted

Why Langley coach Neil Brown was inducted into the BC Basketball Hall of Fame

He described his record as a ‘perfect storm’ of championship girls’ basketball teams

Ride For Doug Muscular Dystrophy fundraiser to proceed

It will be shorter and much of it will be online due to COVID-19 restrictions

Abbotsford football star Samwel Uko dies at age 20

Panthers star running back dies on May 21, cause of death not yet known

LETTER: Angels come to aid of elderly couple in distress

In the craziness of the moment, letter writer forgot to get names, and is anxious to say thanks

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Aldergrove Star to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

‘Not a joke’: Promoter wants to rocket-launch man the length of White Rock pier

Brooke Colby says he’s building an eight-foot rocket in his backyard

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

Boy, 2, left with ‘soft tissue injuries’ after being hit by car in Squamish intersection

Boy was release from hospital, police continue to investigate

Most Read