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Ridge may take recycling money, join program

Staff sort plastic at Ridge Meadows Recycling Depot in Maple Ridge. - The News/Files
Staff sort plastic at Ridge Meadows Recycling Depot in Maple Ridge.
— image credit: The News/Files

The District of Maple Ridge should just take the million dollars from Multi Material B.C. and keep things business as usual down at the recycling depot.

If council votes for that option, residents wouldn’t notice any difference. The Ridge Meadows Recycling Society will keep picking up recyclables from the ends of driveways, as it has for decades.

Council considered the staff suggestion Monday as B.C. moves towards making it mandatory to recycle packaging and paper.

In May 2011, the province made industry responsible for recycling of packaging and paper, with a goal to raise the recycling rate from 50 per cent up to 75 per cent.  Multi-Material British Columbia was established to develop a stewardship plan to collect, process and re-sell the recycled material.

“They have said the majority of municipalities in the Lower Mainland are choosing to move to Option 1, which is to take the cash,” said public works general manager Frank Quinn.

“Take the cash, see how it works out over the next year, and decide whether they want,” to continue.

The revised contract allows any side to bail out of the agreement with only six months notice, and return to running their own recycling programs.

Council considered the same option in September, with a deadline looming. The deadline to sign on to the program is now Nov. 30, allowing the program to start up next May.

One concern was the fines that cities could face if their paper and packaging becomes contaminated with other materials. Those penalties could range up to $120,000 a year.

But municipal engineer Dave Pollock said because of the quality of Maple Ridge’s recyclables, that’s not an issue. Unlike most cities, Maple Ridge residents separate their recyclables into six bags, putting newspaper, cardboard, cans and cartons, plastic, office paper and glass into separate bags, creating a cleaner stream of recyclables.

“We feel comfortable we’ll avoid any penalties in that regard.”

Mayor Ernie Daykin said the district will be able to cope with the change. “We’re in a much better position than most municipalities.

Two other options included refusing the money and allowing MMBC to collect all recyclables, every second week instead of the weekly pickup.

The third is for Maple Ridge to exclude itself entirely from the program and continue collecting recyclables as it has before. However, under that scenario, recycling revenues could go up and down with commodity prices and the district wouldn’t receive the $1 million annually that would stabilize recycling operations.

Council heard that the newspaper industry has told the district it’s not participating in the program. Newsprint is a large part of curbside pickup. The newspaper industry could start its own recycling program or keep working with MMBC, Pollock said.

If council votes for Option 1 at its Nov. 26 meeting, MMBC will pay the District of Maple Ridge the million dollars. That money then will be put back into the recycling society to offset revenue lost to the program.

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