Recycle BC will be canceling their current contract with Bulkley Valley Bottle Depot effective Feb. 24.
Managing director for Recycle BC Allen Langdon wouldn’t give any specific reason to why they are terminating the contract.
“We have no intention of having any further discussions with the BVBD to work anything out,” he said. “They’ve told us they intend on continuing to accept recyclable materials so really at this point if that changes we will look at establishing a relationship with another operator or facility to collect recyclable material. But if they continue to accept them then we don’t see a role for us going forward.”
The depot on Nineteenth Avenue has been collecting all material that is available in curbside pick-up such as mixed paper, aluminum tin cans, plastic containers for those that don’t have their recycling picked up by the Town of Smithers or the Village of Telkwa. They are also currently collecting non-deposit glass, plastic film, plastic bags and foam packaging from all residents (because those things can’t go into recycling bins.)
However, that will also end with the current contract.
Recycle BC is the only company in the province that takes that material, leaving uncertainty for those residents in the area that don’t have curbside recycling.
“We manage the residential recycling system in the province and we would be happy to look at other options for having this material collected, but if there is an operator who wants to collect them and thinks they can market them … I really don’t know what else to say,” added Langdon.
Bulkley Valley Bottle Depot board member Roderick Leighton said even though the contract is being terminated, the depot is not closing and up until the end of March, people can still drop off all the same recyclable material as if the contract was still intact.
“Bottom line is that loss of the contract means loss of funding through the stewardship program to handle those materials to keep them out of the landfill,” he said. “Despite loss of funding the bottle depot will continue to collect this at least until the end of March.”
In that time, the bottle depot will explore all options to keep the material out of the landfill, but at this point it is not clear how or even if this can be achieved.
“We need to make it clear that at this point the material we are collecting … we don’t know how or even if it will be kept out of the landfill,” Leighton added.
“Putting a positive spin on it, this is an opportunity to critically examine the overall system for pollution reduction plans locally and provincially. Is there a better way to do this overall? That will be looked at it.”
Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) Area A (Smithers rural) Director Mark Fisher said it is difficult situation to understand.
“It is a contract between two separate parties that don’t have a direct relationship with the Regional District so it is tough to get information. At the end of the day, I’m not sure it matters, but what does matter is that we don’t lose service here.”
Fisher added that he thinks recycling in general in B.C. is difficult.
“There are problems with the way the program is set up, how it is administered … and the collection isn’t profitable so collectors have to be creative and on top of their operations. That has obviously led to a lot of misunderstandings between the two parties,” he said.
Fisher said the RDBN has been waiting to see if the two parties would work something out.
“From our perspective, what we were concerned about is that it doesn’t affect service but I think it is going to. It is clear now that it will,” he said.
The District will now work on coming up with a solution in the next couple of weeks, whether it is with Recycle BC directly or whether they support Smithers and Area Recycling Society (SARS) to do it independently.
“We really need to look at the numbers. There are options though,” said Fisher.
He is also planning on talking with other northern communities about advocacy and opportunities.
“Recycling is not over but be prepared for a lag and possibly a higher price tag,” he said.
“We are in a lose-lose situation. If SARS continues on their own, they will need support and that could come from the Regional District, which means higher property taxes. If they don’t continue then the Regional District may have to pick it up which would mean higher taxes. The main problem is that the money people get from having a contract with Recycle BC is not enough to cover the costs, especially not in the North. It is not a good situation at the moment but we are working on it.”
There are a few things that aren’t changing. The relationship between Recycle BC and Smithers and Area Recycling Society, who manages all the curbside material that is picked up by the Town of Smithers, will continue.
“There is still a relationship with Smithers and Area Recycling Society, through our partner Green by Nature, so we will continue to do some work there to make sure any of the materials that the bottle depot is collecting doesn’t end up at that facility,” assured Langdon.
The Bulkley Valley Bottle Depot will also continue to be a return it depot for deposit cans and bottles.