City about to embark on full-scale recycling

After a delay of several months the contract to bring recycling to Terrace next May has finally been signed

THE city has officially signed up with a province-wide recycling program that will begin May of next year.

First announced in July, the agreement was delayed because municipalities demanded more time to negotiate the terms of their contracts with Multi-Material BC, the company who is organizing the industry-paid program.

The new program will see paper, cardboard and plastic packaging picked up every two weeks at residential curbsides.

The city will pick up recycling in the same trucks they use for garbage pickup, and the collection of garbage will be switched to once every two weeks, alternating with recycling.

Plastic bags will be distributed to households to place recycling material in for curbside collection.

Private contractors are currently bidding on contracts for business recycling pickup which will also be paid for through MMBC.

Terrace has also decided to pick up glass, based on an incentive of $80 per ton, and the garbage trucks will be fitted with containers to collect it.

A report from July showed that Terrace will received approximately $134,000 a year from MMBC to do curbside collection and transport recycled material to a sorting facility, the location of which is currently undecided but will be announced early next year.

Under new provincial legislation effective next spring, producers that sell packaged products in B.C. are responsible for financing a recycling program. MMBC, a company who had organized a similar program in Ontario, formed to organize a system to collect fees from these producers based on packaging volume and using it to pay municipalities and private contractors to do the collection.

City public works director Rob Schibli said the final contract signed Nov. 29 was changed somewhat from the version Terrace was prepared to sign before other municipalities objected to provisions they thought were too harsh.

He said the new service agreement includes provisions relating to insurance policies, clarifying the arbitration procedure (which is the process through which penalties are given out for contamination), and a convenience termination clause.

Schibli said this termination clause means that both MMBC and municipalities can opt out of their contracts provided they give 180 days notice.

The contracts are for five years, with two one-year options for renewal.

“It could be a total of 7 years under the term of the agreement,” said Schibli.

Several other B.C municipalities negotiated shorter terms because they already had contracts with curbside pickup providers.

Smithers announced this week, after a headed debate, it had accepted the program.  And so did Telkwa.

Schibli said Terrace will need to average at least 135 kilograms of recycling a year per household to continue receiving money from MMBC, and must keep levels of contamination from non-recyclable material below 3 per cent per load.

There are also bonuses built into the system for higher yield.

It remains to be seen how Terrace, a town that has never had curbside recycling and two recent attempts at self-serve depots, fares under the rules. Money, about $15,000 for the first year, has been put aside for education.

“The penalties are quite severe. But in their process they won’t apply penalties immediately when they receive notice of more than three per cent contamination,” said Schibili, adding that MMBC will work with municipalities to help them improve, and give them about a year before penalties up to several thousand dollars per load would start being levied.

Mayor Dave Pernarowski said he is happy that the city has signed with MMBC.

“I think this program works well for communities like Terrace who did not have a recycling program like this before. I am happy to see that Smithers is able to make it work as well. We want to see less recyclable product going into our landfills.”

The province has said they aim to incentivize producers to use less packaging by making them pay for a recycling program.

Some predict a recycling fee added to products, but managing director of MMBC Allan Langdon said that “it’s highly unlikely that the consumer would see any charge.”

“Most of the fees when you break them down on a per unit basis are less than a cent. It’s not like other programs where you may see a visible fee,” said Langdon.

“The fee on a package of a particular unit may be half a cent, a quarter of a cent, even a tenth of cent,” he said.