Using terms like “blackmail,” “bullied” and “held at gunpoint,” City council voted against signing on with Multi-Material B.C. to do recycling in Kamloops.
With a vote of eight to one, council members opted to stick with the current City-run recycling program and wait to see what happens. Coun. Pat Wallace was alone in voting against the motion.
But the situation with MMBC had all of them worried.
MMBC was created by industry after the province called on manufacturers and other producers to take charge of the environmental impact of their products.
There’s been no information about whether MMBC will go into cities to do recycling even if they don’t sign an agreement.
B.C. municipalities have to decide by Sept. 16 whether to opt in or out of MMBC’s recycling program. But MMBC doesn’t accept glass or plastic film, and it fines municipalities for contaminated recycling or for missing collection deadlines.
The problem is, the City is already set up with its own recycling program which has been largely successful and which accepts more recyclable items than MMBC’s.
Mayor Peter Milobar also had concerns about signing up with MMBC when details of the partnership are still not negotiated.
He heard contamination fines can be $5,000 per truck per day, which with a dozen trucks in the City collecting recyclables, could add up to $60,000 a day.
Coun. Ken Christian felt the City was being pressured with a tight deadline.
“I hate being blackmailed into something,” he said.
“I feel like we’re being held at gunpoint,” said Coun. Tina Lange, who said with MMBC accepting fewer recyclable materials, to sign with them would be going backward.
City environmental services manager Jen Fretz said other municipalities have also wrestled with whether to sign up. But Nanaimo, Kelowna, Victoria and several others have done so. Prince George and Quesnel are among those that have not.
Kamloops could have difficulty finding markets for its recyclables if MMBC’s program goes provincewide, she said.
But Coun. Arjun Singh said he spoke to someone with MMBC and he understood the City is free to go its own way without consequences.
City staff said that wasn’t how they understood the situation but they would check into it.
Coun. Nelly Dever moved that the City opt out of the MMBC program and write the Minister of Environment expressing concerns about the program approach.
“I see this as a protest vote,” said Lange.