Changes to the recycling system coming next May will allow more types of packaging to go into blue boxes and be kept out of landfills.

Most Metro Vancouver cities sign on to MMBC recycling subsidies

Municipal concerns persist on contamination penalties, shift of glass to depots instead of blue boxes

Most cities in Metro Vancouver – including Surrey, Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond – have signed on to act as curbside collectors under Multi-Material B.C.’s new blue box recycling system.

Cities had faced a Nov. 30 deadline to decide whether they would take incentive payments from MMBC to serve as collection contractors.

While the cities that agreed to that arrangement get money from MMBC they also relinquish their ability to sell recyclables, which will be turned over to MMBC-chosen processors when the new producer-pay system debuts May 19.

MMBC managing director Allen Langdon said Delta refused to accept the incentive and will continue handling blue box curbside pickup itself, without MMBC subsidy, although it could join later on.

The Township of Langley expressed interest in joining the MMBC system, but not until its current contract ends in 2016, Langdon said.

He said Coquitlam, Anmore and the University Endowment Lands chose a third option – letting MMBC to deliver curbside pickup directly by naming its own collection contractors.

Coquitlam recently signed a new contract with BFI Canada to collect garbage and organics only, saving the city $1 million a year by leaving the recyclables to MMBC.

All other municipalities accepted the incentive.

The changes are driven by the provincial government, which amended B.C.’s recycling regulation to force retailers and goods makers to take responsibility for removing all packaging and printed paper from the waste stream, at their own cost.

For households, it means more types of packaging can be deposited in blue boxes than are now accepted, including milk and soup containers, aerosol cans, plant pots and aluminum foil or plastic clamshell containers.

But MMBC doesn’t want glass contaminating other recyclable materials, so glass jars and bottles may have to be separated and taken to depots once details of the new collection system are finalized.

Langdon said cities that opted to take the incentive could still opt to offer curbside pickup of glass in a separate bag or container – that’s what Richmond has promised.

MMBC’s payment to Surrey for single-family and multi-family curbside pickup works out to $4.5 million per year, according to Rob Costanzo, Surrey’s deputy manager of operations.

“That just about covers the cost of recyclable collection for the city,” Costanzo said.

He said there’s potential to modestly reduce the $281 annual fee Surrey charges single family homes for garbage and recycling pickup as a result, but cautioned that rising regional waste-handling costs are expected to lift household fees over the lnog term.

The actual payment to cities could be lower after penalties are deducted for contamination of recyclables by unwanted materials.

Costanzo said Surrey’s contamination levels are low already and MMBC’s move to cap the penalties limits Surrey’s worst-case fine to $240,000 per year.

Langdon says fines are a “tool of last resort” and MMBC would only order contamination audits if contracted processors notice high levels.

But fears that the new system will end up costing more persist in some cities.

New Westminster Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said he “reluctantly accepted” MMBC’s subsidy so that residents there weren’t taxed twice – once via municipally charged recycling fees and again through MMBC costs that are expected to filter down into higher prices charged by retailers.

Puchmayr said he’s concerned New West won’t be able to keep blue box contamination to no more than three per cent and penalties charged on amounts over that will eat into the MMBC payments.

“They’ll be clawing back $190,000 in potential contamination fees,” he estimated. “It’s just a ridiculous system. It doesn’t benefit the environment, it doesn’t benefit us at all.”

MMBC is allowing cities to opt out of the program with six months notice if they don’t like it.

Municipal officials in Surrey and other cities don’t yet know where they’ll be sending the blue box material they collect.

Four large waste management companies are expected to bid by Jan. 10 for contracts from MMBC to process and sell the municipally collected packaging and paper.

MMBC is also issuing a request for proposals for collection in Coquitlam and other areas that relinquished that responsibility.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey man found guilty in West Kelowna killing of common-law spouse

Tejwant Danjou was convicted of second-degree murder in the July 2018 death of Rama Gauravarapu in West Kelowna

New collective debuts with Crescent Beach show

Nela Hallwas and Lyn Verra-Lay team for ‘Flow’

‘Lifting Hands’ mural on White Rock wall celebrates community’s COVID efforts

High school students, grads inviting health-care workers, emergency crews to add handprints

Former students’ mural showcasing Delta elementary school’s new logo on hold, for now

Ashriya and Karam Purewal painted the spirit logo last spring; formal logo mural delayed due to COVID

Refund emails from City of White Rock a ‘phishing’ scam

IT staff work to nullify security breach in ‘classic phishing campaign’

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

35,000 doses of fentanyl part of huge Maple Ridge bust

Largest seizure in RCMP detachment’s history included submachine gun, body armour

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Most Read