You may have heard that City council will be deciding on whether to go forward with a residential curbside recycling program at Monday’s regular council meeting (January 11, 2016). Raven has been supportive of this move as we believe the City needs to take responsibility for this aspect of their waste management system. This is not about Raven or P&M or Whitehorse Blue Box Recycling, it is about diverting waste from the landfill.
We hope you, too, see a curbside program as a positive step forward. We recognize there are some issues with initiating the program, but we think they are solvable.
Raven made a presentation to Council last week and will not be presenting this week. Below you will find a letter that we have written to editors of the press regarding some questions being brought up.
City council has received a lot of negative comments from citizens and we are asking you, therefore, to join us in providing support for a curbside system.
Here’s what you can do:
1) come to Council meeting on Monday, January 11th at 5:30 pm
2) bring as many people as you can – we think we will need to show support
3) forward this note to anyone else you think would be interested
4) if you wish to be a delegate, call Norma Felker at 668 8622 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
5) write to Mayor and council at email@example.com
6) below is some background you may wish to use
- The City’s Solid Waste Action Plan was developed with public consultation, a survey, advice from professionals in the waste management industry, numerous reports and they chose curbside recycling program as the option that best meets their needs
- The question isn’t really how much does it cost to keep the processors in business, the question is whether the city wants to have a decent diversion rate based on a waste management service it provides to its citizens.
- We need to divert more waste from the landfill. It’s true that diverting materials from the landfill costs money. Not diverting materials and filling the landfill will cost more money in the long run – City officials have estimated it will cost $30,000,000 to close the current landfill and open a new one.
- Recycling is one way to divert waste. Currently, the City is diverting 30% of its waste. The recycling rate has not increased dramatically over the past number of years. Voluntary compliance does not achieve high diversion rates. In cities of a similar size, diversion rates are as high as 60%. Their mandatory recycling bylaws contributed to the high rate of diversion. Owen Sound, Ontario and Charlottetown are two examples.
- The City has 5,800 households that would benefit from a program – currently Whitehorse Blue Box Recycling provides service to 800 households. There is lots of room for growth.
- Some people suggest that they recycle and it’s free so why should they pay $15/month to the City. Residents will remember that Raven had to close its public drop off in the fall of 2014 because we could no longer afford to subsidize the costs of recycling non-refundables. We negotiated a short term arrangement with YG to ensure both recycling processors would be paid for the material collected and shipped. This was meant to be a stop gap measure until new systems were developed such as the City’s curbside program. Recycling is not free.
- Someone mentioned that the RFP could put Whitehorse Blue Bin Recycling out of business. There is no reason to think that any business won’t figure out what to bid on an RFP. With a cost-recovery model that the City follows, it makes sense that any business will provide a competitive bid based on their experience which will ultimately benefit the City. It’s true that it may be cheaper in the short run to carry on with the status quo but who can say how long any of the current players can continue?
- Current diversion credits from City of Whitehorse do not cover the expected $75/tonne because of the $150,000 cap. For 2015, we have received about $35/tonne due to the tonnage we have diverted. If there is no curbside program, the City will have to invest in diversion credits that reflect the true cost of processing. They have never suggested they will remove the cap.
- YG’s diversion credit varies by commodity and is not a long term solution. In fact, we have yet to sign an agreement for this year. Changes to the BCR appear to be stalled out or at the very least, it is unclear when they will be announced or what they will be.
- Since the commodity crash in 2008, recycling processors have been providing information and ideas on how to make the industry sustainable. So far, there has been no movement from either government to make a system that provides sustainable funding based on tonnages diverted from landfills. Diversion credits are not a system and do not provide certainty. We have been advocating for the phasing out of diversion credits as new systems come into play such as a curbside system, expanded Beverage Container regs and expanded Designated Material Regs. We also know that material from some sectors will still need to be paid for.
- The goal we are all striving for, hopefully, is to divert waste from the landfill. Neither Raven nor P&M can continue without certainty. We cannot plan for the future, we cannot invest in the infrastructure needed to expand our services.
- We want to clarify that Raven is well aware that although we expect we would bid on the RFP, we have no expectation that we will be the winning bid. Our point is that now is the time for the City to take responsibility for providing a recycling service for their citizens.
- Raven diverted approximately 2000 tonnes of eligible materials in 2015 – we were closed for 5 months in 2015. Five percent of that was from the communities.
If you have any further questions please contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Raven Recyclng Society
Letter to Editors:
January 7, 2016
Dear Editor, On January 4th, City Council discussed the implementation of a residential recycling curbside collection and processing service. There were a number of concerns raised at the council meeting and reported in the news. Upon reflection, I believe many concerns are based on misinformation. Others concerns can be solved and shouldn’t be used to stop progress or change from happening. The biggest misinformation is that people are wondering why they should pay $15/month when they have been dropping off their recycling to P&M Recycling and Raven for free. Recycling is not free. Recycling costs money. Raven had to close our public drop off in 2014 because we could not continue to pay for Whitehorse citizens to recycle their non-refundable materials. This situation has been temporarily solved through a new diversion credit agreement between the processors and the Yukon government. The agreement is a stop gap measure until new systems are put in place. Another piece of misinformation is that businesses don’t need to be paid for the services they provide. Both Raven and P&M have subsidized recycling services to Whitehorse’s citizens for decades. The City’s waste management system needs to include recycling. Without it, processors operate in an uncertain climate. We continue to operate day to day with limited resources and little ability to improve our infrastructure or plan for the future. How long can we last? Waste management is a complex issue. As has been pointed out, residential recycling is a small portion of the waste stream. Construction and demolition and the ICI sector (Industrial, Commercial and Institutional) do make up most of the volume. Truth is the City has begun to put into place other systems that address those sectors. Increased tipping fees apply to cardboard and wood waste. Effective waste management demands leadership from elected officials and citizens. While our public drop off was closed, we heard loud and clear that people want to recycle. We also heard they expected the City to do something about it. If our community truly wants to recycle and divert waste from the landfill, I believe it is time to put a system in place. The City of Whitehorse’s desire to start a curbside recycling program is a good step.
Raven Recycling Society