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

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We have to ask the producers the tough questions we haven't asked our cities

This summer the producers responsible for throw-away packaging are trooping around BC, setting up meetings with local government waste managers, dangling bags of money, and saying they'll cover 100 percent of the cost of their local recycling programs.

When this opportunity is announced in a Staff Report to Council next September, now many Mayors and Councillors are going to ask their staff:

  • Will we have to track the amount of materials that come in, so the producers can submit that info in reports to the province as required under the law?

  • Are they providing the data-management system and training to do this? How many FTEs are they providing to do this ?

  • How many different kinds of packaging are we going to be tracking? The province will want to know about the performance of all the different kinds of packaging. They'll want to know which packaging is pulling its weight in the program and which is not, so we can put pressure on the producers of poorly performing packaging to choose a more environmentally friendly design. That's the point of EPR, right?

  • Will this program require us to build a MRF (sorting plant)? Upgrade the one we have so it can sort more materials? Will there be restrictions on the percent of "residuals" that the MRF produces -- the stuff that gets thrown away because is not actually recyclable? (And by the way, how many residuals are coming from our municipal program right now?)

We are organizing a Campaign for Real Recycling for September. It is going to hold producers to even higher standards of transparency and performance than we have held our own cities. It's no longer good enough to tell us to put it out on the curb and not know what the real recycling achievements are.

We want to know where everything is going and what is being done with it. And how much it's costing us as consumers.

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