Thursday, August 30, 2018

Proposed changes to enhance the residential recycling program in BC

Recycling programs have been a part of many communities in our province since the 1990s. I remember when the recycling program started in my hometown of Vernon, and how I diligently “educated” my parents on the importance of recycling.

Residential recycling programs changed in 2014 due to the provincial government’s Extended Producer Responsibility program for packaging and paper. This program transferred the responsibility of funding and providing recycling services from government to businesses that create products that use packaging and paper. As a result, most things in our province can be recycled.

Langley City was one of the first communities to transfer its property tax funded residential recycling service to Recycle BC, the recycling program that is funded by the private sector. For the most part, the program has been a success; more types of packaging and paper can be recycled than ever before. While the program has been successful, there are challenges.

Recycling BC is updating its stewardship plan as required by the provincial government. The updated program must also be approved by the provincial government. Recycling BC has been reaching out to consultation with people on the new plan. The new plan is focused on resolving some of the challenges with the program.

Over half of all households in BC living in multi-family* housing, yet only half of those households received services from Recycling BC as of 2017. People in multi-family housing generate a significant amount of waste that if not recycling, will end up in landfill. One of the updated program’s goals is to increase the number of multi-family dwelling households that receive recycling services.

Not all types of packaging and paper are recycled to the same level:

Material recovery rate targets for the residential recycling program (based on weight). Select table to enlarge.

Another one of the program’s goals is to increase the amount of plastic, including items like single-use cutlery, plates, straws, and beverage cups that are recycled. Increasing the rate of recycling of plastic will take serious effort by Recycle BC to achieve.

While recycling may no longer be a hot-button topic, it is extremely important for as least two reasons. We are running out of space to landfill our waste, and burning our waste creates other issues. Recycling also helps protect our environment by reducing our reliance on raw resources.

For more information on the proposed changes to the recycling program in BC, please visit the Recycle BC consultation page.

*includes apartments and townhouses.

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