City agrees to recycling change

New Westminster council has reluctantly relinquished its recycling program to Multi Material BC.

They did so to prevent taxpayers from paying double for recycling, although Coun. Chuck Puchmayr predicts they’ll still pay more than they did previously.

MMBC is an industry organization set up by the provincial government to take charge of blue box pick-up next May. It will be responsible for collecting and recycling all packaging and printed paper, but will not collect glass bottles.

City council did not vote to join the program in September, and after the Union of B.C. Municipalities gave overwhelming support to the city’s resolution opposing it, some solutions were sought.

“We really didn’t get very far,” said Puchmayr. So, with a Nov. 30 deadline looming, council held an emergency meeting the day before and voted to join the controversial program.

Puchmayr had opposed enlisting in it because he felt it would only benefit private industry.

But he reluctantly agreed to the deal because New West residents would be paying an extra fee if the city didn’t acquiesce.

They would not only pay a recycling tax when they purchase their products, their garbage collection rates would not be reduced because the city would have to handle the recyclables.

Under the MMBC system, it will reimburse the city for whatever recyclable products New Westminster brings to them and the city would reduce the utility fees to reflect the rebate.

“It’s not fair taxing New Westminster citizens twice so I reluctantly accepted MMBC. We’ll have to monitor it to where it goes,” said Puchmayr.

He’s fearful much of the reimbursement money will be clawed back by MMBC.

That’s because originally New West was told it was going to be charged $5,000 for every truck with more than three per cent contamination of non-recyclable products.

Puchmayr said New Westminster is already one of Metro Vancouver’s best recycling cities and it was having trouble keeping contamination to six per cent.

He believes three per cent is an almost impossible goal, especially since glass won’t be allowed in the blue boxes.

“There was no way we would ever be going to reach that target. Literally the money they were going to give us for this service was going to go back to them,” said Puchmayr.

“They end up with this huge pool of money at our expense.”

However, since then MMBC and New West have worked out a ceiling of $4,500 per truck and 24 trucks a year.

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

Puchmayr said the program was forced on the municipalities and will only benefit the provincial government’s industry friends.

“They gave it to select proponents in the market, and there’s really not enough oversight on it from key stakeholders,” said Puchmayr.

Under the new program, residents will either have to take their glass to the city’s recycling depot next to Canada Games pool, or to a Return-It centre.

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