July 29, 2013 - 1:56 PM
KELOWNA - A new producer-run curbside recycling program is coming to the city next year and it boasts savings for taxpayers. But those savings could be a flash in the pan if the program gets more costly down the road.
After a 2011 change in B.C.'s environmental policy all major producers (from restaurants to newspapers) will now be responsible for recycling the paper and packaging they release into the residential marketplace.
As a result, producers joined together to form Multi Material B.C., a non-profit organization that will take charge of residential recycling programs as of May 2014.
The new program will accept a variety of household waste products not currently accepted by recycling depots, such as styrofoam, a used Tim Hortons' coffee cup, tetra paks for soup and soy milk, microwaveable cartons and whip cream cans.
To get their program off the ground Multi Material B.C. is offering cash incentives for local governments and residents.
Incentives for signing a contract with the organization amount to $3,229,880 to cover the anticipated $3,042,541 cost of running the programs.
For homeowners that translates to over $40 in estimated savings on their parcel taxes over the next two years. Kelowna residents currently pay an $88 Collection Fee parcel tax and a Solid Waste Reduction Service fee of $108.42 for all waste, recycling services provided.
But city councillors say there's no guarantee the 'take-it or leave-it' contract would protect homeowners from a jump in fees come 2016.
Counc. Rober Hobson says product stewardship programs where recycling fees are factored in at the point of sale are not always transparent about where the money goes.
“There's a danger the public could end up subsidizing more than the recycling cost,” he says, in what could potentially be a "revenue generation opportunity" for the producer.
Mayor Walter Gray says it's likely financial circumstances will change: costs could go up while the incentives could go down.
Community services manager John Vos says there's no guarantee homeowners won't be squeezed by the program.
"That is within the realm of possibilty,” Vos says. But ultimately, Multi Material B.C. plans to be the sole operator of the program, funded entirely by their product sales.
“At the end of the day, residents will be billed through products they purchase,” he says, eliminating city collected recyclcing fees altogether.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013