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Ridge recycling depot getting $730,000 baler

The baler crushes and packages paper, plastics, cardboard and metal into one-tonne cubes. - The News/files
The baler crushes and packages paper, plastics, cardboard and metal into one-tonne cubes.
— image credit: The News/files

Maple Ridge council approved spending $730,000 on a new baler for the Ridge Meadows Recycling Depot on Tuesday.

The money, already set aside in a reserve account, will pay for a Two Ram Horizontal Baler system, which will be set up in the big shop at the depot, where it will crush and package paper, plastics, cardboard and metal into nice one-tonne cubes.

The question, though, is whether the depot’s 18-year-old baler will last the six months or so before the new one arrives.

The district already paid $73,000 in 2009 to keep the old one limping along, recycling society executive director Kim Day told council.

And without a baler, which makes it easier to ship out more product in less space, the district won’t get the top prices for its recyclables. For instance, currently the recycling society receives about $120 for baled cardboard.

If it’s shipped loose, the price the recycling depot receives is cut in half.

Coun. Corisa Bell wanted to delay the purchase because it was too close to the November civic elections.

“Making a decision like this, at this time, is significant.”

Bell said many people in the district want municipal garbage collection and said a new council may have to respond to that.

Currently, Maple Ridge residents either hire a private garbage hauler to pick up their waste  or take it to the transfer station themselves. The Ridge Meadows Recycling Depot picks up curbside recyclables.

“I can’t imagine another group of people ignoring the public so blatantly.

“And to purchase a piece of machinery that is this expensive at this point, that’s going to take six months before it gets here?”

Bell wanted council to do a request for information on garbage collection for Maple Ridge and says council should at least have the information on what it would cost to implement such a program.

She said the 2012 Citizens Survey by Ipso Reid indicated that 40 per cent of people interviewed said they wanted municipal garbage pickup.

She doesn’t have an opinion on municipal garbage pickup, but council should at least have the information. In 2012, council rejected spending $85,000 to get a consultant to look at garbage pickup.

“Why wouldn’t you want the information?”

However, a staff report from last year estimates that, under a municipally operated garbage collection system, the combined yearly costs would climb to between $275 to $350.

Bell, though, said if Maple Ridge, at some point, decided to opt for a single collector of garbage, green waste and recyclables, it may not need the baler. For example, one company picks up all waste streams from Pitt Meadows homes and doesn’t process its recyclables, instead marketing them around the Lower Mainland.

“What is the overall cost to run the recycling society and what’s the cost to have everything collected by one company?

“We don’t have that information.”

Bell and Coun. Bob Masse voted against the baler purchase.

“I’m still struggling to support the expenditure at this time,” Masse said.

The rest of council supported it.

“This is the right thing to do,” Coun. Al Hogarth said. “I’m used to having that discussion [about garbage pickup] pretty well every election cycle. Let’s have fun.”

The new baler will operate whether the current system remains or under the new arrangement between Maple Ridge and Multi-Materials B.C., said Mayor Ernie Daykin.

“If MMBC doesn’t work out, we just go back to the system that’s already in place.”

Maple Ridge, along with many cities in Metro Vancouver, has signed deals with MMBC as part of the province’s aim at recycling packaging and paper.

The agreement sees MMBC pay the District of Maple Ridge about a million dollars a year for marketing its recyclables. That gives the district a steady revenue stream, which is less subject to the ups and downs of the market.

In return, MMBC collects upfront fees from industry, based on the packaging used, in addition to what it receives from selling the recyclables.

That’s resulted in a group of businesses opposing the fee structure saying it will drive them out of business.

However, curbside recycling practices for Maple Ridge residents won’t change and the depot will still do the collection.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business and eight other associations launched a campaign in B.C. newspapers and online at rethinkitbc.ca to amplify the pressure against the new system.

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