B.C. municipalities that haven’t signed up for the new province-wide blue box collection system won’t be included in the program’s launch next May but will be able to participate at a later date, the head of the new provincially regulated agency said Monday.
Allen Langdon, managing director of Multi-Materials B.C., said his agency will continue to meet and discuss with any municipality that didn’t meet Monday’s sign-on deadline.
Many municipalities, including Richmond, have balked at signing the collection contract because of the price MMBC has agreed to pay local levels of government to take over their blue box service. Langdon maintained the price is a fair one.
“The deadline still applies but only if you want to be involved in the launch on May 19, 2014,” he said. “If you’re not ready to commit, we’ll still continue to have discussions and we’ll meet with you and hopefully include you at a later date.”
MMBC is an industry stewardship group comprised of major retailers and producers that will take responsibility for curbside collection of recycled paper and packaging in B.C. The MMBC program is designed to make industry pay for the costs of recycling paper and packaging in the province.
Langdon spoke to local government delegates in Vancouver for the 2013 Union of B.C. Municipalities Annual Convention.
Under the terms of the deal, MMBC will pay municipalities to run their own blue box system as contractors. Otherwise, local governments have two options: MMBC will take over all curbside pickup or municipalities can continue running their own blue box programs but without any compensation from MMBC.
Municipalities remain concerned about the terms of the MMBC contract. On Thursday morning, UBCM delegates will be voting on a special resolution to call on both the provincial government and MMBC to give local governments another 90 days to sign with the new agency, so they can be part of the 2014 program launch.
Municipalities’ concerns include the new recycling program’s implementation, local control of recycling programs and producers taking full financial responsibility for the recycling and collection of their waste.
Langdon told reporters that local governments representing about two-thirds of the households in B.C. have already opted into the program.
As for the price that the MMBC is paying to take over existing blue box collection systems, he said his organization sat down with local governments and an accountant with expertise in waste management to “determine fair compensation for those services.”
Adriane Carr, a city of Vancouver councillor attending the UBCM, said she didn’t hear a clear answer from Langdon about whether municipalities will be able to negotiate any of the terms of the contract.
“What I heard clearly is that he’s willing to sit down with municipalities,” she said. “The phrase around negotiating any different terms, especially price, was left blank — no answer.”
Carr said she remained concerned that Langdon didn’t say anything about the new regulatory body setting targets for reducing the amount of material used in packaging. Without clear goals, she said, producers could download the cost of recycling onto the consumer.
“People are upset at how much packaging they tear off the products they buy,” she told reporters. “Unless you set a clear target, with a plan and a time line to get there, I fear it won’t get there.
“We may end up with more stuff and junk that people don’t want out there.”
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