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EPR Update March 22, 2013

It has been a few months since our last update on the PPP situation in BC, and therefore high time we got everyone back up to speed! 

A few days following our last post in November, MMBC submitted an official stewardship plan to the BC Ministry of Environment. This was followed by submission of a slightly revised plan on February 25, 2013, which included clarification of some plan aspects, as well as full reproduction of additional stakeholder feedback (follow this link to view the report: http://www.multimaterialbc.ca/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/plan/MMBC-PPP-Stewardship-Plan-Feb25-2013.pdf ).

At the most general level, the plan follows this framework:

            -MMBC will determine a “Market Clearing Price” for collection of PPP, based on their perceived cost of an efficient collection program; both depots and curbside collectors will receive an MCP, but it is not yet known how many different MCPs there will be for different scenarios (i.e. urban vs. rural, curbside vs. depot)

-Local governments currently in charge of collection will have the option (a “Right of First Refusal”) to accept the MCP and continue their existing programs, or to reject it, in which case MMBC would take over recycling altogether.

-In addition, MMBC will seek bids from material processors (such as Urban Impact) for different regions’ material throughout the province; there will be contracts between MMBC and their processors, which may also be contingent on certain arrangements between collectors and the processors bidding on their material. 

There is no doubt that the system being envisioned is a significant departure from what exists now.

One departure that recently exploded in terms of the mainstream news media, is the issue of glass in the Blue Box. Part of MMBC’s mandate is to harmonize recycling of PPP throughout the province, part of which means a standardized list of acceptable materials collected at curbside, at depots, or not at all. MMBC has put out a draft version of such a list that includes a proposal to remove glass from Blue Box curbside programs and have it collected by other means (i.e. depots or drop spots). This suggestion spurred a backlash of sorts, mainly from local governments and residents concerned about “taking a step backwards on recycling”, and convenience issues. The main reasons to remove glass center on its negative effects on other materials in the mix and on processing equipment, as well as its negative value and limited recycling applications when collected using curbside systems.

Check out this Global News story on the issue, featuring Urban Impact President, Nicole Stefenelli: http://www.globaltvbc.com/metro+vancouver+shocked+by+call+to+dump+glass+from+blue+boxes/6442800303/story.html. 

Here is another link to some of Nicole’s opinions on the issue from her blog: http://blog.urbanimpact.com/

We have also seen a recent uptick in EPR interest from producers – those responsible for making the stuff in the Blue Box and paying for the new system. MMBC hosted information sessions for producers during March which were well attended by a wide variety of increasingly interested producer groups. Following the end of March, MMBC will likely be charging late fees for new producers signing up with their program, so producers would be advised to get informed and start looking at their options immediately.

The next big event in the process will be when MMBC proposes their official Market Clearing Prices to municipalities, who will then have to decide whether they are in, or out. This will likely be a very difficult decision for many cities to make, and they will only have 60 days to do it. Things definitely have the potential to get political and controversial, so stay tuned.