WASTE Management is closing its recycling depot here at the end of March, citing the expense of running a no-charge service.
“We gave it a good shot but in the end, we just couldn’t do it,” Waste Management official Jay Maybin said last week.
Waste Management did not charge a fee to use the depot and did not receive a subsidy or financial support from anyone else.
The depot, a collection of large, marked bins in an enclosure right beside Waste Management’s compound near Irly Builders/Timber Mart, was opened about 11 months ago.
There was no employee at the depot location and it was up to users to place the right material in the right bin. Paper, cardboard and plastics were accepted but glass was not. A separate bin placed by Allen’s Scrap and Salvage took tin and metals. It replaced a pilot project run and paid for by the city that was located on the old Co-op property.
Although there were costs absorbed by having to separate recyclable material from garbage at times, Maybin said the biggest expense was the cost of fuel to transport material to a place where it could be handled.
“Diesel is now more expensive than gas,” said Maybin of transportation costs.
Maybin said it was very rare to operate a free recycling service anywhere and that the Waste Management depot here is the only one of its kind in the province.
The city’s pilot project, in which it hired Geier Waste to haul recyclables to the Do-Your-Part private recycling depot in Thornhill, cost the city $70,000 a year.
Maybin said Waste Management’s free service was also an attempt to expand the company’s name in the area.
“We very much want to be a community partner,” he said.
Waste Management will continue to recycle cardboard collected from commercial clients, something it has been doing for years here, Maybin said.
City administrator Heather Avison said the city is disappointed by the news.
“It is a service to the community and it was fairly well utilized, but if Waste Management could not make a business case to keep operating, that’s their decision,” she said.
Although the Waste Management depot replaced the city’s pilot project, Avison said there is no contract between the company and the city and there is no monetary support by the city. The city has no immediate plans to open a recycling depot, she added.
“Council will need some opportunity to consider what’s involved,” said Avison. What is happening, Avison continued, is a change next year in how waste is treated.
Producers of packaging and paper and stores that sell products using packaging and paper will become directly financially responsible for resulting recycling costs.
That’s going to change the way garbage and waste now being picked up by local governments is handled.
“We’re going to need the time to regroup and get a sense of exactly what that means,” said Avison.
The changes to paper and packaging recycling costs coming next year is called extended producer responsibility.
In this area, the effort to reduce what ends up in landfills includes the city and the regional district. Maybin from Waste Management said it has every intention on bidding for whatever paper and packaging handling plan emerges here.