LETTER: More thought required before revising recycling measures

There should be “problem-solving sessions” before the “decision-making session.”

There is much ado about the B.C. government’s order to municipalities regarding the collection and handling of recyclable material.  This is to be implemented in early 2014.

The plan seems to have originated by persons who have never been in the waste disposal business and have developed it from their theory of how waste should be handled. Included in the debate, to a very large extent, are the environmentalists who demand everything be recycled, all for the protection of the environment. This is all well and good, except it becomes an extreme measure and produces a loss of balance. There should be a balance between protection, benefit and within the confines of the economy (the ability of the public to pay for all this).

It has been reported that the buyer of our recycled material (China) demands the reduction of contaminants from 20% to 1.2%.  To achieve this target demands more careful sorting, which can only be done by humans, not machinery. This is an extra cost, plus the threat by China to return (at our expense), those bales that contain in excess of 1.2% of objectionable items.

To require  municipalities to cope with these extra costs, to accommodate the buyer (China), means  taxpayers are the one who ultimately is straddled with these expenses in their property taxes. China is then dictating how we handle our waste.

Would it not be more fair for the government bureaucrats who have devised these changes, to evaluate the recycling problem the way an entrepreneur would go about solving the problem? There should be  “problem solving sessions” before the “decision-making session.”  To do this, an entrepreneur would weigh the cost vs benefits, keeping in mind how to satisfy environmental concerns. This problem solving exploration would involve (1) which items are easiest to sort out of recyclables and which items are most marketable. It is likely that cardboard, newsprint and plastics would account for 85% of the recyclable material and would bring the best revenue in return.  (2) That would mean 15% would go back into the waste stream. The result would be less sorting costs and less risk of having some material returned by the buyer. But there would be a slight increase in what would be disposed of in the landfill.

The claim made that we are running out of land for landfills is largely a ploy from the so-called environmentalists. If a genuine search was made, there are places in B.C. where landfills could be established. There are places (perhaps farther away) where habitation and parks and forests will never take place. However, this would require being politically incorrect and that seems to be almost like a religious barrier to overcome.

Why not think about it before implementing the revised recycling measures?

Leonard Remple

Abbotsford