The City of Nelson stands to gain more than $100,000 in new revenue for continuing to offer its existing curb side recycling program when the province shifts to a new product stewardship program.
Under the new BC recycling regulations coming into effect in May 2014, the costs associated with managing end-of-life recycling of printed paper and packaging will shift from municipal governments to industry. So if, for example, you buy a new computer the brand owner or first seller will be responsible for the cost of collecting and processing all the packaging it came with.
A non-profit agency called Multi-Material BC will be in charge of collecting a recycling fee from businesses and distributing that money to municipalities like Nelson who have opted to continue collecting recycling. The city also had the option to stop collecting recycling and have MMBC pay a private contractor to pick it up instead.
But city manager Kevin Cormack explained at this week’s council meeting that the city will receive a financial incentive of $32 per household for continuing to collect the blue bags from 3,150 homes — a total of $100,800 — which is considerably more than it costs to run the program.
“Because we collect both [garbage and recycling] in the same truck, we do run a very efficient collection service,” Cormack said, explaining that the actual cost to have the city collect recycling, given that the truck is already going by households to pickup garbage, is essentially a “small incremental cost.”
However, terms of the new agreement will allows the drop off point for processing to be up to 60 kilometres away, which means the city may have to truck the recycling out to Castlegar. Even so, Cormack estimates it wouldn’t cost the city more than $15,000 to get the materials there.
If the city decides in the future that it wants to stop collecting recycling, it can terminate the contract with six months notice.
“This is an opportunity to generate new revenue that we can direct towards other programs,” Cormack said.
He doesn’t expect it will lead to any change in the fees homeowners pay on their annual utilities bill. The city collects $40 per single-family household for garbage and recycling collection. Residents also pay $1.75 for a garbage tag on each bag of trash left at the curb.
Councillor Donna Macdonald pointed out that under the new recycling program residents will be able to drop off recyclable materials like styrofoam and packaging film in bins at a recycling depot, the way glass is dropped off now.
“This is going to lead to a reduction of recyclable materials in our waste stream,” Macdonald said. “I think it’s a really positive change.”