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

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Good reporting by Jeff Nagel

Hats off to Jeff Nagel of Black Press who continues to dog Metro Vancouver's waste activities, including this embarrassing disclosure that the new operator of the Burnaby incinerator (Covanta) let cadmium levels go way up and never bothered to report them to Metro Vancouver.

Paul Henderson, who moved from landfill duties at the City of Vancouver to incinerator duties at Metro, sounded shocked:

"Solid waste manager Paul Henderson said there was a range of sample results, but the highest cadmium readings were more than double the provincial limit.... "It wasn't marginally over the limit, they were substantially over the limit," he said.

Bitter irony that Wastech, which has fought Metro's new incinerator plan, had to take the toxic fly ash at their Cache Creek landfill.

I wonder if any cadmium got in the carrots in my backyard....

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Are producers going to join MMBC's plan?

The clock is ticking down towards the deadline (November 19) when thousands of companies that produce packaged products and printed materials sold in British Columbia have to submit their plan to the government for recycling their waste. It's our bold new step in producer responsibility.

But these companies have been strangely silent.

Instead, an organization called MMBC has been presenting itself as the appointed body chosen by these companies to put together a "stewardship plan" for them.

MMBC has now issued its plan. They will unveil it at a public consultation next Monday. No matter what the public thinks -- will the producers themselves sign on to MMBC's plan?

It's hard to see why.

For one thing there are some pretty significant industries that aren't going to get any service under this plan -- even though they are being asked to pay for it. Toothpaste tubes, for instance, are not going to be collected when the plan rolls out in 2014.

Crest and Colgate-Palmolive and Tom's of Maine and all the rest of these big players are going to have to pay MMBC "fees" even though they are not getting any service. Sort of like a tax. Except that nobody elected MMBC. Least of all you and me.

The MMBC board is not very representative of the companies obligated under BC legislation. There's nobody there from the Printed Paper industry. Maybe the newspaper industry are still thinking of backing after all, as they threatened to do last April.

The consultation is open to the public in person and as a webinar. Register online and see what happens.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dual stream not a solution

I'm already hearing people say we can solve the PackagingAndPrintedPaper problem by collecting paper one week and packaging the next. This is what they do in Ottawa.

The rationale for this pickup schedule is that it keeps the materials separate, while also maintaining some sort of economies of scale by making use of the same fleet of trucks.

But this economy of scale benefits packaging unfairly: the containers continue to be collected at a loss, while the paper pays more than its way.

Let's take care of paper, and let packaging figure out a system of its own... like, for instance, joining the deposit/refund system?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Let's start with paper

OK, MMBC has asked for an extension of the deadline for submitting its recycling plan for PackagingandPrintedPaper. While they dither, let's get going with a new plan a plan for PrintedPaper. Let's get the Paper Chain together in this province and craft a stewardship program that:
  • gives right of first refusal to municipalities and social enterprises for collection of all grades of paper from single family and multi-family residences in the province -- with the condition that the paper must be collected separately from containers (eat that, MMBC!)
  • establishes a BC Grade of recovered paper and has a design competition for industries that can do something with it (e.g. how about somebody to manufacture a compost-grade paper (100% recycled content sourced in BC) and somebody to convert it into handy countertop bags for folks to collect food scraps in before dumping them in with their yard waste (100,000 new consumers of this product were just created by Mayor Robertson's announcement of City food scraps collection service)
Any takers, BC newspaper publishers? Way simpler than a refinery in Kitimat....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mumble BC webinar a snoozer -- except question period

Except for question period -- which turned out to be live -- the MMBC webinar was a total waste of time. Who wants to listen to a patronizing Ontario voice read PPT slides summarizing stacks of meaningless data?

But as soon as she sat down the members of the audience let her have it -- but politely (this is Canada).

Local government reps bit the hand that they hoped was going to feed them, finding fault with data that they said Mumble BC should have seen was glaringly inconsistent.

MRF operators raised an obvious practical question : is Mumble BC shooting for an aggregate target of 75% recycling -- or 75% of each different material. (This question, of course, belongs to the Ministry. It will be a central point of public concern: aggregate targets reward the laggards.)

MRF operators in BC like Cascades Recovery and Urban Impact and Emterra have been spending a fortune tooling up their plants with Rube Goldberg machines to sort ketchup bottles out of newspapers -- they don't want to spend a fortune if Mumble BC isn't going to give them part of the action. Cascades CEO Al Metauro jumped up three times and tried to pin MMBC down on how the pie was going to be divvied up.

Recycling advocates, we are about to lose EPR -- our Ministry is giving it away. Designating PackagingAndPrintedPaper as a single product category under the regulation is sending us down the road to single-stream recycling. And Mumble BC is quite open about intending to direct "non recyclable packaging" to incinerators.

Will we Occupy EPR -- or let the Retail Council take it away from us?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mumble BC -- lets fight them with Ottawa's approach

MMBC is a front organization for producers of throw-away packaging. It is angling for permission from our provincial government to take over monopolistic control of recycling in this province by becoming the "steward" of packaging and printed paper under our newest EPR program.

MMBC is hosting a webinar tomorrow for "stakeholders" to discuss two background papers. The papers are being distributed to a select group of participants (if you want to read them, I can forward the pdfs). During the webinar participants will not hear each others questions or comments.

All this is an effort by producers of throwaway packaging to dumb down EPR. It is likely to succeed unless the public wakes up.

Ontario is just starting to climb out of the hole that MMBC's sister organization (OMMRI) dug for them a generation ago. OMMRI convinced the ON government of the day to authorize producer-subsidized curbside recycling for packaging and printed paper, rather than using the successful deposit/return program like the one we have for beverage containers. The results were so abysmal that Ontario has recently announced that big changes are needed (more about that soon).

As part of this effort, Ontario cities are being duped, like half of BC cities have, into adopting "single stream" curbside recycling. But the City of Ottawa resisted the pressure to dump everything in one cart. They asked The People and heard that separate collection was what was wanted.

Read about Ottawa's new plan here.