Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Local Government Transition to EPR for Packaging in Rural British Columbia, PART 1 OF 3

PART I.  The BC Packaging Law and the Rural District of Kootenay Boundary

Guest Blog by Raymond Gaudart & Alan Stanley
Raymond Gaudart

Raymond is the former Director of Environmental Services for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, a Director of the Recycling Council of British Columbia, and a recently retired board member of Product Policy Institute.  
Alan is Director of Environmental Services for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and a Director and Past Chair of the Recycling Council of British Columbia.
Alan Stanley

In May 2014 producers of packaging and printed paper will implement the results of a 3 year long consultation and planning exercise and take over full responsibility for the collection, transportation and processing of all residential recycling in the Province of British Columbia.  This will be the first program for packaging and printed paper with 100% producer responsibility in North America. While British Columbia already has EPR programs in place for twelve product categories, this is the first time that an industry operated program will take over programs that, in most instances, have been municipally funded and operated.  The challenges posed by this transition are substantial.  In this and the following segments we will discuss the transition as experienced by the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), a largely rural area in south central BC [www.rdkb.com]. 

In this segment we will set the stage by identifying the pertinent legislation, and describing RDKB, the existing program and its costs. In the second segment we will discuss some of the challenges both RDKB and Multi Material BC (the stewardship agency) will face and how RDKB plans to handle the transition.  In the third segment we will envision what things will look like in May 2014 and how RDKB will ensure that its residents continue to receive at least the level of service they have come to expect. 

The EPR program for packaging and printed paper was announced in May 2011 when Schedule 5 of the Recycling Regulation came into force.  The Recycling Regulation [http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/449_2004] is BC’s framework legislation for all EPR programs.  It was enacted in 2004 pursuant to provisions of the Environmental Management Act.  The regulation rescinded previous product-focused legislation to bring all programs under the provisions of the new regulation.  The existence of the framework legislation allows government to add new product categories to the regulation without an act of the Legislature.  The province currently adds new product categories each year in an effort to meet Canada’s goal of EPR for 100% of manufactured discards by 2018 

RDKB (a Regional District is similar to a county) includes eight incorporated municipalities and five Electoral Areas (unincorporated areas) with a population of 30,742 spread over 8,096 square kilometres (3,125 square miles).  Two thirds of the population is clustered in the eastern 14% of the District’s area.  RDKB is a mountainous area that experiences hot summers and snowy winters.  Geography, climate and population density pose significant challenges to the operation of residential recycling programs. 

Nonetheless over 95% of residential premises, including single and multi-family dwellings, are serviced by curbside recycling pickup, either single stream blue bag collection or traditional blue box collection with curbside sorting for single-family dwellings or wheeled toters for multi-family dwellings. Additionally, some small businesses are serviced by a toter-based collection program with the balance of small businesses having access to drop-off depots. The materials collected in the blue box program are processed locally and shipped to markets in large population centres.  Blue bag materials are compacted and trucked between 125 and 250 kilometres for processing.  Collection is carried out by contractors while some transportation is done by RDKB staff.  All processing is done by contractors.

The existing recycling programs cost RDKB $1.4 million annually out of a total solid waste management budget of $4.1 million which includes funding for three regional landfills and nine transfer stations.  The overall funding comes 30% from taxation and 70% from tipping fees at disposal facilities owned by RDKB with the recycling programs using 100% of the taxation and about 7% of collected user fees.  There are no private disposal facilities in RDKB.

The Series
PART I:    The BC Packaging Law and the Rural District of Kootenay Boundary
PART II.   Shifting Public Funds to Composting
PART III.  Maintaining High Service Levels

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