SURREY - Surrey is among many B.C. cities that have taken issue with Multi Material BC’s (MMBC) proposed recycling contract, saying it is unclear and could negatively impact the city’s existing program.
MMBC is an industry stewardship group consisting of major retailers and producers that is expected to take responsibility for curbside collection of recycled paper and packing in B.C. by May 2014.
The move, approved by the province last year, is aimed at having industry pay for the costs of recycling paper and packaging products across the province.
The original deadline to sign a deal was Sept. 16, but that has been extended following mayors and councillors from across B.C. calling on the province for an extension so they could negotiate a better contract for taxpayers, arguing they are getting a raw deal that could potentially see a reduction in recycling services and affect green-city goals.
Rob Costanzo, Surrey’s deputy manager of operations, said the city is willing to accept an offer, but that acceptance would be subject to conditions.
“We are saying we will accept it conditionally, but we want to ensure that, essentially, the (recycling) program is not impacted. We want the program to remain the same or actually be improved,” he said.
Within three months of rolling out its Rethink Waste program last October, Surrey reported a 43 per cent drop in residential garbage tonnage, with a corresponding increase in organic waste diversion. The city wants to continue with that success, Costanzo said, not take steps back.
Costanzo said there are a number of things that would require amendment in the contract before the city would sign off on it.
“They’ve imposed these contracts, these agreements, that are very onerous and one-sided. The concern of local government is that it doesn’t go far enough to protect the interests of the taxpayer,” he said.
“One concern is that they could make any sort of change and you’d have to accept it. You really don’t have a say in the matter... In Surrey, for example, we collect the blue or recycling cart biweekly. They could come in and say they want to collect it once a month. We wouldn’t have a say in the matter.”
Coun. Judy Villeneuve is concerned about the contract and how it could impact the waste program and Surrey’s residents.
“Cities feel that we haven’t had enough co-operation and say and we want to have a better understanding of what kind of input we’re going to have for policies and changes in policies.”
Villeneuve also took issue with a stipulation in the MMBC contract that says cities could be fined up to $5,000 per load if its contamination rate is more than three per cent. And residents who repeatedly break the three per cent rule could be cut off from recycling collection completely.
“We just don’t feel that’s fair. We need to certainly clear up some of those issues,” Villeneuve said.
The issue is set to be discussed by UBCM (Union of B.C. Municipalities) delegates Thursday morning.
A UBCM resolution requests 90 days for local governments to clarify and further consider the offer prior to implementation next spring. It also asks the provincial government to review the MMBC plan.
With files from Vancouver Sun
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