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Multi Materials BC makes changes to the Blue Bin programme. Is it for the best?

In 2011, B.C. amended its recycling regulations to require producers that sell packaging and printed paper to develop a stewardship plan with the B.C. Ministry of Environment or join a stewardship agency working on their behalf.

Multi Material B.C. (MMBC) was created by paper and packaging producers in B.C. to develop a plan for the industry. The nonprofit agency will be taking over paper and packaging recycling in 2014.

Under the program “local governments, companies and organizations that collect residential packaging and printed paper or prepare it for shipment to end-markets are service providers and can contract with MMBC to provide services. Or, if they prefer, MMBC will be responsible for directly providing collection services.”

MMBC’s program is the first of its kind in Canada where responsibility for managing the residential recycling of packaging and printed paper has been fully shifted by provincial regulation from local governments and taxpayers to business. MMBC works to ensure that BC businesses, many of which are household names locally and globally, meet their corporate sustainability objectives by enabling responsible recycling solutions to be offered to consumers. BC residents will be able to recycle new categories of packaging that are not commonly included in current curbside or depot recycling programs – including milk cartons, foam packaging, plant pots, aluminum foil packaging, certain types of plastic film packaging and drink cups.

We have seen the video by MMBC detailing the program.

As a resident, I was surprised to learn from my City that Glass can no longer be included in the Blue Bin and must be taken to a depot.

In 2013, the CBC reported that Allen Langdon, chair of MMBC advised that the blue box program currently collects about 210,000 tonnes of material each year, and only about 2,500 tonnes of that is glass, he said. He said that when the glass breaks in the blue boxes, it contaminates the other paper and plastics in the blue box, making them more difficult to recycle. Furthermore, recycled glass has little commercial value, meaning there are limited facilities to recycle it in B.C.

Most consumers will not collect the glass and take it to a depot. Increasing numbers of population are living in smaller homes and car ownership is declining in certain areas and demographics.

The blue box program works because making a difference is easy. Not to mention the carbon footprint of all those journeys to the depot of consumers wanting to do the right thing. 

I believe MMBC and our elected officials have a duty to find a practical solution to this issue.

What are your thoughts?