Nanaimo reduces taxpayer bills with recycling shift

NANAIMO – The city has been hired by Multi-Material B.C. to handle recycling collection next year. The shift could save taxpayers money.

Residents will see reduced recycling fees and single-container pickups next spring as Nanaimo shifts to a new recycling system.

The City of Nanaimo recently opted to ink a deal for curbside recycling with Multi-Material B.C. – a not-for-profit of manufacturers and retailers now mandated to recycle their own products.

It is a “game changer” move that will shift responsibility to process and market recycled material away from the municipality, said Gary Franssen, the city’s manger of sanitation and recycling.

The City of Nanaimo will become a contractor for MMBC instead of a service provider, but will continue to provide consistent curbside service to residents under the new contract. People will not have to send complaints or concerns to a provincial call centre and their garbage and recycling schedule won’t change.

While people might see new recycling fees priced into products, they will no longer have to pay the city to recycle.

There will be changes to what residents can leave at the curb. Newspapers will no longer have to be separated into a different bag and people will be able to recycle gable-top and aerosol containers.

Plastic bags, styrofoam and glass will have to be taken to drop-off centres like the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange.

Garbage and kitchen waste service is still a city responsibility and remains unchanged.

“We see this as a positive move in the long run and certainly something that’s doable,” Franssen said. “It’s a convenience thing [for taxpayers] to some extent… [we are the] same first contact people have had for the last 30 years in the case of garbage collection. It’s just now funded by someone else.”

The B.C. government changed regulations in 2011, making manufactures and retailers 100 per cent responsible for recycling the printed paper and packaging they produce.

The producer-pay system is anticipated to force industry toward using more ‘green’ alternatives to packaging, ultimately reducing waste.

MMBC is handling the new function on behalf of industry and offering some municipalities – once responsible for recycling – first rights to collection contracts. They will give Nanaimo $35.25 per household each year to continue curbside collection and public education – an anticipated $900,000 in annual revenue. In turn, residents will save just over $35 on their city garbage and recycling bill.

The new initiative will provide service to 26,000 households in the community beginning May 19, including single-family residences and fourplexes. It does not include condominiums.