BC Government protects monopoly recycling scheme
Following two years of discussions, 18 months of plan revisions with ministry officials and two extensive consultation periods, a final decision was reached on January 13, 2016 by the BC Ministry of Environment (MoE). Unfortunately, the latest version of the StewardChoice Packaging and Printed Paper Plan (PPP) submitted on December 7, 2015 has not received approval.
“Needless to say, StewardChoice is extremely disappointed with the Ministry’s decision. We do not agree with the Ministry’s objections, which seem to be insufficient on their own to be the basis for the rejection of our plan in any event,” says Neil Hastie, Development Director. “We were determined to provide producers with choice and expand access for residents who are not receiving a producer-funded PPP service thereby offering benefits for both producer and residents.”
The Recycling Regulation in BC allows for competition as it permits more than one approved plan within a product category. Four objections were raised by the Ministry and the Ministry decision letter can be viewed here. However, within the decision letter, it was also stated that before the MoE can approve a second plan, significant policy work would be required to understand how the Ministry could administer two competitive schemes. Neil Hastie says, “It is regrettable given the almost two years of discussion, public consultations required by the Ministry, and numerous changes to the StewardChoice plan negotiated over months with the Ministry that apparently they have not made any progress in developing policy.”
The Ministry also expressed concern over the financial implications for Multi Material BC’s (MMBC) existing residential collection services, given the potential for producer members to terminate their agreement with MMBC and subscribe to the StewardChoice plan had it been approved.
Under the Environmental Management Act, StewardChoice has the option to pursue an appeal within 30 days from the date of the ministry’s decision. This appeal will be filed shortly.
Neil Hastie says, “We are doing everything we can to see our plan succeed. We very much appreciate the support and patience stakeholders have extended to StewardChoice as we attempt to obtain approval of our packaging and printed paper plan with the Ministry of Environment; thereby providing the possibility of choice for producers, recycling service companies, residents and local governments in British Columbia.”
Traditionally, waste management companies have operated using a simple "management of waste" approach to operating a MRF. Throughput targets and continuous operation (minimal downtime) were the main driving forces. The industry has changed however, and the focus moving forward is now on optimizing system performance and reliability, in conjunction with increasing recycling rates and a drive for a "greener" and more sustainable tomorrow.
When considering the addition of, or upgrade to, an "intelligent" MRF, for municipalities or private operators, the main factors should always be the client's (operator) current requirements, and evolving market needs, which include throughput, reliability, output quality, and adaptability. Equally important is a full understanding of what is really expected from any proposed system. Having an engaged and focused mindset for the project with the client from the beginning, will impact and drive the entire design process. This then impacts the overall project result, through to the productive, efficient, ongoing operation of the facility itself.