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Business to pay for recycling
New recycling regulations in B.C. will shift the cost of recycling from the government to the companies who produce the material beginning in 2014.
Allan Langdon, chair of Multi-Material B.C. said the province is the fourth jurisdiction in Canada to make the move, adding it’s been the norm in Europe for 20 years, though the program has yet to be put to use in the U.S.A.
He added the change means the brand owner will be responsible for paying for the cost of recycling its company’s products.
“So Tim Hortons is responsible for its cups, Safeway is responsible for its own packaging, meaning its own private label and whatever is imported by them into the province,” Langdon said. “Some of the larger companies, like Proctor and Gamble, have already stepped up and become voluntary stewards.”
The system to make the move work must track what is going into recycling and is complex.
“We are actually building off a system used in other jurisdictions,” he said. “We have a web portal in place. Some packaging is simple, others have different components.”
He said both the weight and components need to be tracked.
“There will be a fair level of complexity in the system,” he said.
One example of items set to be included in the new system are newspapers. The owner of a paper is the one who owns the brand and is, therefore, responsible for the cost of recycling.
“So what we do is we try and track everything that is recycled and apportion the cost appropriately, depending on what it cost to recycle the material,” he said. “Newspapers are probably one of the easier materials to recycle, so they would be cheaper on a per unit basis. Plus there are well established markets for that material in Washington State and in the Far East.”
He said Multi-Material B.C. has to pay for the cost of the system, they have to pay the collectors and the processors a certain amount. This cost is passed on to those who are creating the material. Producers are also asked how much material they put into the market over the year. Those variables are used to apportion the cost to the various producers. So, they are charged based on the cost of the system as well as the volume and type of material they put into the market place.
For some companies, those that don’t have outlets in one of the four jurisdictions in Canada that have this system in place, this will be a brand new cost.
Despite this, Langdon said he hasn’t heard many complaints about the idea behind the system, but there have been many questions on how it will work.
“People are unfamiliar with the program,” he said. “Most people recognize if they are selling this material, then there is some responsibility on their part to ensure the material is being recycled.”
Instead questions surround how the system is used, how payments are calculated and what the system will look at at end of the day.
He added producers will probably be charged annually with quarterly instalments.
In the end, he said the reason behind the system is to provide an incentive to producers to either reduce packaging or find a way to make their packaging more recyclable.