Council supporting recycling initiative

  • Apr. 27, 2009 6:00 a.m.

Queen Charlotte council plans to support an initiative calling for better management of bottle deposit and other product stewardship money. “Fees are collected, but Encorp gets the funds and we’re not getting the service here,” said Councillor Greg Martin. Islanders do not have access to any electronics recycling programs or, on the south-end of the islands, a used-oil return program. Similar concerns are being raised province-wide through a letter from the BC Bottle Depot Association, which was read at the April 6 council meeting. In the letter, executive director Corinne Atwood, says that unredeemed deposits and eco fees are kept by Encorp Pacific Canada, the company that runs the Used Beverage Container Stewardship Plan, the Electronics Stewardship Plan and the Voluntary Milk Container program. “These fees are collected province-wide from consumers and are supposed to be used for the cost of recycling the discards,” she writes. Currently, 70 percent of BC communities have no collection facilities for electronics, including Haida Gwaii. She said that the product stewardship program will expand this year to include more items and in the next two years it will include large items like refrigerators and stoves. Local governments are burdened with the cost of landfilling or recycling these items or paying for shipment to communities that do have facilities and Encorp keeps the money, she says. And the reason there are no collection facilities in some places is that Encorp doesn’t offer enough compensation to depots or other collectors to pay the cost of accepting the goods. “We’re pushing our electronics into the landfill,” says Councillor Martin, who is concerned about the materials like cadmium and mercury that are in the products. He is spearheading the move to write letter to Environment Minister Barry Penner outlining Queen Charlotte’s concerns over this matter and demanding the ministry take responsibility. The BC Bottle Depot Association is concerned that BC’s recycling industry could fail if these funds are not distributed. “Failure of the collection facilities would place the burden of recycling on the back of the taxpayers,” writes Ms Atwood. The lack of facilities for returning certain products has been a long-standing issue for Councillor Martin and other members of the Islands Solid Waste Advisory Committee. In the case of used oil, the BC Used Oil Management Association is not providing a collection facility on the south-end, says Councillor Martin. Used oil is purportedly collected at the landfill near Port Clements and in Masset at TLC Automotive, but he was told by the BCUOMA director that no one has taken any oil off the islands. He also worries about what south-islanders are doing with their oil. “We are grossly underserviced,” he said. The letter will be reviewed for input by Councillor Leslie Johnson as well, before it is forwarded to the Minister’s office.