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Let local people solve local recycling dilemmas
On our government’s letterhead printed on virgin B.C. paper, the outstanding awesomeness of our province is unmistakably clear.
Super natural, beautiful, the best place on earth, the place where Canada starts; over the years the claims to fame get bolder and brighter and better.
On recycled paper, however, British Columbia’s proclamations of prowess have of late become slightly smudged.
This is largely due to the inability to learn from our own mistakes, and the almost dogged determination to repeat them.
Our leaders have a tendency to come up with decent ideas then completely muddle the delivery.
The latest example can be seen in giving an industry-run organization the mandate to offer a one-size-fits-all solution to residential recycling throughout B.C.
In May of next year Multi Material B.C. is destined to roll out a curbside recycling program built with the intention of shifting recycling costs away from the taxpayer on to the producer of the material needing to be recycled.
The Packaging and Printed Paper Stewardship Program was designed at the behest of the province to achieve a 75 per cent recycling rate province-wide. Newspapers, retailers and other producers of packaged goods will be responsible for collection and recycling of the materials.
MMBC’s program will work by offering money to existing municipally run collection services to do their bidding and contracting out those collection services in areas where recycling collection doesn’t currently exist.
Everyone involved seems to think the idea of increased recycling is a good one, but nobody other than MMBC seems happy with the way the contract is written.
Fees of $5,000 for loads with greater than three per cent contamination rates have cities across the province wondering how much money the taxpayer will end up owing.
On Thursday at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention a resolution was unanimously passed to demand more time with MMBC to negotiate the contract. The problem here is two-fold.
First, the province has given the responsibility to design a program palatable to B.C. taxpayers to a sector that is driven by profit. Industry will take this opportunity to write an agreement that falls in its favour. They will also treat their partners as they would other corporations, demanding arbitrary deadlines be met and using non-collaborative tactics to push ahead.
This is problematic when it is the taxpayers who are the partners.
The second, and to me more troubling problem, is the belief that provincial issues can be dealt with by imposing one solution on everybody.
Just think about the diversity we find here in our own neighbourhoods, throughout the Cowichan Region and Vancouver Island.
The only way to efficiently and accurately create programs and solutions for local problems, such as how to increase recycling rates, is to put the power in local hands, and let local groups come up with individualized programs to meet those needs.
The province needs to demand the contracts be written in a way that demonstrates increasing recycling rates is the most important goal, not covering industry’s costs to recycle material they produce.
Then the province can step back and leave it in the hands of local organizations to deliver the best service to meet the local needs.
Aaron Bichard writes for newspapers and recycles them. Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.