Mayor Nils Jensen openly opposes proposed changes to glass recycling in the region.
The Capital Regional District, faced with concerns over glass contaminating other recyclables, will consider a ban on glass from blue bins as early as next year.
“Their view was there are a small number of local bottlers that want their bottles returned so they can be reused. It represents a very small percentage of the bottles that are recycled,” Jensen said. “It’s like using a sledgehammer to deal with a gnat. People will be required to get into their cars, get on their bike or bus to the closest bottle depot. I think that’s counterintuitive to the recycling policy.”
Glass containers have been collected as part of the CRD’s residential curbside blue box program since it began in 1988.
“Most people will not go to the trouble of finding a place to drop their glass, they will put it in the garbage. Most of our glass will end up going to Hartland not the local bottlers who need their bottles,” Jensen said. “This whole initiative will benefit a handful of corporations to the detriment of the environment. That’s not what sustainability is all about.”
Recently implemented changes to the BC Recycling Regulation require producers to fund residential packaging and printed paper (PPP) recycling.
The CRD made agreements with both Multi-Material BC (MMBC) and Emterra Environmental to collect residential PPP, including glass, through the curbside blue box program. The agreements are effective to April 30, 2019. MMBC pays the CRD approximately $5 million annually to provide recycling on its behalf and the CRD, sub-contracts Emterra to conduct the blue box collection. MMBC owns all the recyclable materials collected and has contracted the firm Green by Nature to process and market them.
“The CRD engaged Emterra, they are a very good sustainability company,” Jensen said, noting they made alterations to collection to keep glass separate. “That contract will have to be broken as of Jan. 1 and we will have to pay them out. We don’t know how much it’s going to cost us to break that part of the contract.”
Glass containers collected curbside are supposed to be separated by residents to avoid glass contamination of other recyclables. If contamination is not consistently below three per cent (of the weight), the CRD faces fines of up to $120,000 a year. Information provided to CRD staff by MMBC audits states that contamination is trending downwards, but still estimated between eight and 10 per cent.
That contamination referred to is the possibility of contamination of the hard plastics we put in the blue box in Oak Bay, said Jensen.
Other options include termination of Emterra’s contract and re-tendering without curbside glass collection alongside a public awareness campaign. The preferred option by CRD staff is to continue roadside collection and re-evaluate when the agreements expire in 2019.
Another is to work with Emterra to negotiate a change to the existing curbside program to eliminate glass collection. This would include compensation of up to $150,000 per year to offset Emterra’s glass collection capital investment.
Jensen hopes to hear from his council, and residents, on whether glass should be removed from roadside recycling.
He urged council, and specifically readers of the Oak Bay News at the March 29 council meeting, to think on their views.
Jensen plans to ask councillors their thoughts during the April 11 Oak Bay council meeting prior to the April 13 CRD meeting where he expects a decision.