Smithers and Telkwa asked to speak up about recycling

Smithers and Telkwa learn latest provincial recycling plan from environmental services director with the regional district.

Smithers and Telkwa need to join talks about B.C.’s latest recycling plan, says Janine Dougall, environmental services director at the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako.

Dougall has been attending town council meetings in the area to let municipalities know what the province’s plans are regarding recycling, especially paper and packaging.

The province is moving to a producer-pays model to recycle paper and packaging, Dougall said, and so far it’s leaning toward mandating a 75-per-cent collection rate.

But that could mean companies will simply write off recycling paper and packaging in northern towns as part of the 25 per cent they don’t need to recycle, Dougall warned.

“What this regional district is trying to do is force them to develop regionally-based goals,” Dougall said.

“We all know that down in the Lower Mainland, the Okanogan and higher-density locations, those programs already exist and it’s probably pretty easy to transition.”

If regional targets do go ahead, Dougall says the new system could mean curbside recycling in every northern municipality that already has garbage collection.

“That’s pretty big for municipalities,” she said, noting garbage disposal is eating more and more of local government budgets.

Due to start three years from now, the new program would set up a competitive bidding system for those collection contracts.

But the system may rely on drop-off depots in rural areas—a plan Dougall says won’t work for the north because of the high waste volumes that come from rural areas.