Thursday, 28 February 2013 07:42

City of Swift Current hopes to benefit from provincial recycling program

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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The City of Swift Current officials anticipate local recycling efforts will benefit from the implementation of a province-wide multi-material recycling program (MMRP).


The Saskatchewan government announced the approval of the Household Packaging and Paper Stewardship Program Regulations on Feb. 11.
The regulations provide the foundation for a multi-material recycling program in the province. It requires that an industry stewardship organization, Multi-Material Stewardship Western Inc. (MMSW) must work with municipalities and other stakeholders to develop the program.
MMSW must present a product management plan, including funding details, on or before Aug. 6, 2013 to the Minister of Environment. Municipalities currently cover 100 per cent of their local recycling programs, but industry will be responsible for 75 per cent of program costs under the new MMRP.
City of Swift Current Director of Engineering Mac Forster felt the MMRP will be a big step forward.
“That’s good news because that’s the multi-material bridging funding that we need,” he said. “It provides necessary funding to support recycling programs.”
The City increased the recycling fee on utility bills from $1 to $4 in March 2012 in an effort to recover a larger portion of the existing recycling program’s operational cost. According to Forster, the MMRP funding will make it possible to establish an enhanced recycling program.
“To date our recycling program is funded almost totally from the fee that is applied to the City utility bills,” he noted. “This will go a long way to help us incur additional costs and prepare for a better recycling program, moving forward into the future.”
Municipal Engineering Technologist Dan Knutson’s duties include the City’s recycling program. He said they are still waiting to receive more detail about the functioning of the MMRP, but it will fit in well with the City’s own initiative.
“We’ve been planning on moving forward with our recycling program, regardless of the MMRP,” he mentioned.
One of the options under consideration is curbside collection of recyclable materials, but he emphasized any proposals from administration will have to be approved by council.
“It’s not cheap but at the same time our new landfill isn’t cheap either and the value of diversion offsets the cost of the landfill by a significant amount,” he said. “And if we’re going to get some money from the stewardship group to help pay for the collection that will be an easier sale.”
The City’s 2010 recycling survey indicated about 48 per cent of residents who returned the survey favoured a central recycle depot option.
“The problem with the depot is we’re only getting maybe 10 per cent of the recyclable material out there,” he said.
According to Knutson a curbside collection system should make it more realistic to get closer to the goal of recycling around 30 per cent of the waste stream.
For many years the recycling of paper and cardboard was made easier by the presence of Urban Forestry Recyclers in Swift Current, but the facility is closing down during March.
In the interim the City has started hauling paper and cardboard to Kindersley.
“There is extra cost to it, but it should be a temporary thing,” Knutson said.
Swift Current resident Clayton Wicks would like to see the City take advantage of the provincial MMRP initiative as soon as possible.
“It’s great to see the government is going to do something,” he said. “So now I think we can push the City forward.”
He felt it should be a priority for the City to address the large amount of cardboard from local businesses that is still ending up in the landfill. Wicks, who is the financial operations manager at Swift Plumbing and Heating, used his own workplace as an example.
For a number of years the company has been using a separate dumpster for cardboard, but to his frustration the contractor still takes it to the landfill. He estimated about 10,000 cubic feet of cardboard from Swift Plumbing and Heating was not recycled over the past three years.
“We thought it was going out to get recycled, but several years ago we found out that most of the time it just went out to the landfill,” he said. “They come with the same truck and dump both bins into the same truck.”
He is convinced the local business community will get involved in an expanded recycling effort by the City, but it will probably require a larger facility than the current recycle depot.
“I think the facility they’ve got is too small and probably in the wrong location,” he said. “I’m surmising something out in the industrial park.”
Wicks suggested instead of a recycling fee for residents there should be a garbage fee as a means to motivate households to recycle and to reduce waste. A flat fee for recycling also serves as no motivation.
“We should pay less for recycling and a lot more for garbage,” he said. “The logic behind it is pay for your garbage, not to get it recycled. Why am I paying extra to recycle when you should be getting patted on the back?”
He felt curbside recycling is workable, as long as it does not involve too much separation of materials that will make it cumbersome for residents.
“The more we have to separate our recycling, the less likely people are going to do it,” he said.

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