Recycling is a losing proposition

Last month, Recycle BC offered the Town of Smithers and Village of Telkwa a recycling solution: ship our recyclables to Terrace.

The deal Recycle BC has with the communities is that they provide the drop off point and the municipalities provide the curbside pickup.

Trucking recyclables to Terrace, of course, is not an ideal solution for a number of reasons and both municipalities turned it down.

But at least it is a solution.

Smithers Deputy Mayor Gladys Atrill said the Town is holding out for a local solution. The promise of recycling is not just environmental, but also economic.

“Eventually we’re going to look at waste as product,” she said. “We want to be able to ensure that whatever entrepreneurial opportunities come with goods happens here in the Bulkley Valley.”

The problem is, nobody is stepping up with a local solution and with good reason. It is a losing proposition because the “product” of which Atrill speaks is virtually worthless. Markets for paper, plastic, glass and cardboard have all but dried up and recycling plants across the country are losing money.

The only product that is worth anything is aluminum and Smithers already has a bottle and can depot for that. So, the paper, plastic, glass and cardboard being picked up at curbside is simply not a viable entrepreneurial opportunity, unless someone is willing to subsidize it, something taxpayers are not likely to support.

The economics could change, of course, but not likely for the foreseeable future.

It is clear residents of Smithers and Telkwa want a solution, so if the municipalities are serious about providing one they should take Recycle BC up on the offer.

In the meantime, residents should be thinking more about the other two Rs. It is becoming clear that reducing and reusing are a much more viable solution to the waste problem than recycling.

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