RDBN considers plan to cut $40,000 subsidy to recycle depots

RDBN considers plan to cut $40,000 subsidy to recycle depots

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) is trying to reach an agreement with the Houston recycling depot, which doesn’t agree with the RDBN’s plan to cut funding for depots by half.

The plan would affect the $40,000 subsidy that the RDBN pays to the depot.

Recycling company Cascades Recovery provides bin rentals and takes away the recyclable items, and charges the RDBN $40,000 a year for those services.

The RDBN is encouraging the region’s depots to sign contracts with Recycle BC.

RDBN has come up with three optopns for the Houston depot.

The RDBN board agreed at its Jan. 17 meeting to continue working towards its Option 2 for Houston, after it wrote letters to all the recycling depots that don’t have contracts with Recycle BC, urging them to sign up, and informing them of the possible funding cut.

Option 1 for Houston was to set up a recycling depot at the local landfill site. That idea was scrapped.

“Logistically it would be tough to build a depot there and people aren’t going to want to drive out to a landfill,” Rory McKenzie, director of environmental services with the RDBN told Black Press.

Option 3 is to build a new recycle depot in Houston, which is still under consideration.

“I cannot operate my depot with Recycle BC. I can’t meet its conditions,” said Houston Bottle Depot owner John Koo.

“I have to talk more with the RDBN.”

The privately-owned recycling depot in Burns Lake has a contract with Recycle BC and this year will also receive about $15,850 from the RDBN, half of what it received last year.

The Bulkley Valley Bottle Depot in Smithers had a contract with Recycle BC but lost it for reasons that were unclear.

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The RDBN later signed a contract with Recycle BC for that depot, as well as the one in Vanderhoof.

Those depots don’t receive subsidies from the RDBN and operate through taxpayer funding and the RDBN gets paid by Recycle BC for the recyclable materials.

Fraser Lake is the process of signing a contract with Recycle BC and it should be finalized by May or June, McKenzie said.

Fort St. James currently has a curbside recycling program through Recycle BC and negotiations with the RDBN over its future program are ongoing.

Granisle and the Southside, “aren’t big enough in population and product to have contracts with Recycle BC. We could make Granisle and the Southside satellite depots and their product would be brought to the nearest Recycle BC depots to be processed,” McKenzie said.

Recycling is complicated and most depots make money from bottles and not from the recycling, McKenzie explained.

“If you try to sell mixed paper there’s no market it,” he said. “Recycle BC is one of the few places in North America that will pay for it and will get rid of it. China is our main buyer and they are slowly closing the door to North America. We have to come up with ways to take our recycling products ourselves and re-manufacture it into a usable product.”

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McKenzie added that the recycling business is commodity-based and prices fluctuate, giving sellers varying returns depending on the day.

“Once you have a five-year contract [with Recycle BC] the price is locked in.”

There are some conditions a depot must fulfill once it signs with the organization, explained Recycle BC spokesman David Lefebvre.

“They must have sufficient infrastructure to manage the materials, including collection containers, and staff to interface with the public,” he said.

After Recycle BC picks up the materials from the depot, it’s taken to the Green By Nature facility in Prince George. It then pays the depot for the materials.

Payment for residential recycling material is calculated by tonne, with depots getting $80 per tonne for paper and cardboard, $500 per tonne for plastic bags and overwrap and $800 per tonne for foam packaging, among other types of recycling. Pay rates are higher if the depot bales up the materials.

However, the amount of money a depot would receive from Recycle BC for its materials wouldn’t make up for the $40,000 subsidy the RDBN might remove, McKenzie said.

“Our mandate is to have Recycle BC contracts set up at all depots in the RDBN.”