The province’s adoption of stricter recycling guidelines for businesses has negatively impacted the rural B.C. areas and one business is speaking out.
The owner and operator of Ace Building Supplies in Kaslo — Jeff Davie — wrote a letter to the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) board of directors to express concern over the lack of recycling options for remote businesses.
For some time, Davie and other businesses have been taking their mixed fibre and plastics to the transfer station in Kaslo. But that changed recently.
“We were informed recently that that was not an option and we should not have been doing it for the past two years,” Davie wrote in his letter.
“We had wondered why other businesses had quit making the effort … to separate and deliver our recyclables to the depot. Given the option it is one we are willing to make.”
Currently, everything but corrugated cardboard is going into garbage bins, Davie explained.
“Sadly, the ‘what if everyone did it’ reaction is incredibly discouraging because we know everyone (businesses) is doing it,” he continued in his letter to the board. “Please see if there is a way to make recycling more accessible and look into whether private companies are in fact recycling what they pick up directly from businesses.”
Area A director Garry Jackman applauded the letter. On its end, the regional district has been lobbying the province since 2020 to include industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) material in Recycle BC or another stewardship program.
“(T)here is some progress being made, but it’s probably still 2025,” before it happens, he said during the June 16 RDCK board meeting.
“I’m glad to see that, in a respectful way, that businesses are starting to talk about this in common sense.”
ICI gets dropped
Changes to the way recycling was being handled in the province in 2020 had resulted in commercial recycling being deemed too expensive to process, with the Recycle BC program not supporting industrial, commercial and institutional material.
In the RDCK, changes to the management of the local recycling program — from regional district control to Recycle BC — meant business owners and commercial producers were being told to put once accepted recyclables into the landfill.
According to the regional district, global recycling markets have dropped out, meaning there is no value in recyclables — in the past the value of the material often paid for the collection, hauling, processing and marketing.
And since producers of commercial recyclables do not contribute financially to the Recycle BC program, industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) material is not accepted and is seen as contamination, said Amy Wilson, resource recovery manager for the RDCK at the time of the changes.
“Basically ICI left at a Recycle BC depot is seen as illegal dumping, and may also be in contravention of a number of our site regulations in Resource Recovery Bylaw No. 2694,” she said, adding that the move could fall under the fines (up to $10,000) or bans applied through the bylaw.
“In cases of illegal dumping we pass on the full cost of clean-up, and repeat offenders may be banned from using RDCK waste facilities (including depots).”
Wilson said Recycle BC views ICI recycling as contamination.
“If our bins have over three per cent contamination (ICI or other non-Recycle BC program materials) the RDCK may be fined,” she said.
The threat of fines have meant several businesses have been throwing out their recycling for the last three years.
Business owners can travel to a depot that accepts ICI cardboard, or they can hire a private recycling service (and possibly partner with nearby business) to recycle some material.
The BC Recycling Regulation, amended in 2011, requires businesses that supply packaging and paper product to assume responsibility for the cost of collecting, sorting and recycling these materials.
Recycle BC is a non-profit stewardship organization that uses member fees to finance residential recycling programs for paper product and packaging, either directly or by working with local governments, First Nations, private companies and non-profit organizations.
Although several communities now have curbside recycling collection for the first time, meaning more materials will be diverted from the landfill.
In many areas, local governments will continue to provide collection services, but the list of materials accepted will be expanded. In other areas, Recycle BC will assume responsibility for collecting residential packaging and paper product for recycling.