Citizens taking action ~ Vancouver, Lower Mainland, and beyond.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Metro doesn't get it

Metro's waste plan could have been written in 1990. It is completely uninformed by all the important developments that have happened over the past 20 years. It's like they've been in a time warp.

This province is setting the pace for North America -- even the world -- in Extended Producer Responsibility, which will eliminate waste by shifting waste management from a public bail-out to a strict producer/consumer responsibility.

Through EPR, we could be the leaders in re-visioning recycling, so it becomes part of the shopping experience rather than part of the garbage collection experience.

If we do it right, producers will be courting consumers with enticements to bring back their worn-out products so they can be safely "stewarded" from cradle to cradle. Retailers are already showing signs of recognizing this opportunity: London Drugs taking back styrofoam, retailers making a commitment to cut plastic bag use in half.

But Metro is doing it wrong. Rather than building on these promising starts, Metro is proposing welfare for waste.
Metro's recycling innovation: a bunch of publicly funded Eco-Centres. These centres will compete against EPR. They will steal business from the small businesses that could provide better service at no cost to the taxpayer. Corinne Atwood, Executive Director of the BC Bottle Depot Association, made an impassioned statement at the Metro consultation session in Delta last week. She -- and I -- want to see the recycling industry grow, but Metro will kill it.

The rest of the world is looking to British Columbia to show the way to cradle-to-cradle EPR recycling. Metro's ill-conceived public Eco Centres will fail at recycling and their staggeringly costly public incinerators will turn the next generation's resources into Greenhouse Gas.

Surely we can do better. After four years of trying to talk sense to Metro, Zero Waste Vancouver is going to give up and start working with local municipalities to pursue the vision of community economic development that EPR promises. Municipalities will fill the gap that Metro has left.