Raven mulls re opening drop off recycling bins

Raven Recycling's board voted last night on whether it will re-open its public drop-off service. Representatives remained mum about the decision on Wednesday morning.

Raven Recycling’s board voted last night on whether it will re-open its public drop-off service.

Representatives remained mum about the decision on Wednesday morning. An announcement should be ready later this week, after the board has collected more information, said president Jacqueline Bedard.

“It’s just not an easy yes/no decision,” said executive director Joy Snyder in an interview Thursday.

“The board needs to think about, what are the long-range plans? What does the community need?”

“They want recycling to happen, they know that the community wants recycling, but how do they best bring that about?”

The drop-off bins have been shuttered since October. Raven said it could no longer afford the cost of processing materials and shipping them out.

Earlier this month the Yukon government and City of Whitehorse announced they had found a few ways to give both Raven and private recycler P&M a boost.

The Yukon government has also promised up to $573,000 to support the processors in 2015/2016, two and a half times what was provided in the past year.

The City of Whitehorse committed to an additional $57,300 in diversion credits to recyclers this year, beyond its regular $150,000 funding cap for that program.

In addition, it has advanced the $150,000 set aside for 2016 diversion credits.

The Yukon government also chipped in $68,000 to ship out 400 tonnes of stockpiled mixed plastics, and the city promised to deal with stockpiled mixed paper through its recycling program.

Those measures help, but what Yukon needs is a long-term, sustainable system to pay for recycling, said Snyder.

Snyder has been trying to budget the costs of re-opening the drop-off bins, but there are so many unknowns, she said.

“I don’t know how much tonnage is going to be dropped off. Some people are throwing stuff in the garbage now, the blue box program has increased, and that goes to P&M, so I have no idea what the tonnage is going to be, and thus the revenue attached to that is unknown.”

Revenues attached to returnable beverage containers are also very much up in the air, said Snyder.

Those depend on things beyond the society’s control, like the economic situation and even the weather, she said.

“I’ve lost a lot of customers. Am I going to get them back?”

Revenues from future commodity sales are also hard to predict, said Snyder.

“I don’t know how much product I’m going to have to sell, and I don’t know what I’m going to get paid for it, so there’s just so much uncertainty.”

Whitehorse is working on implementing city-wide recycling pick up, and that’s a step in the right direction, said Snyder.

“We are really supportive of that, because it will provide a system to pay for non-refundables.”

But it will only cover about 5,000 households that currently have garbage pick up, and not multi-family residences and country residential lots.

“What’s going to happen to them? What sort of system is going to cover them? It’s still just only a piece of it.”

Raven responded to a request for statements of interest from the city to manage the curbside recycling program, said Snyder.

But she’s working on back up plans that will keep the society busy whether or not it wins the bid for that contract, she said.

“If we get it, that’s great, but I also have plans for if we don’t get it. And that’s great.”

Ideas include partnering with Habitat for Humanity on an expanded free store, developing a repair and refurbishment centre for electronics, and focusing more attention on efforts at public education, said Snyder.

“We want to be more than a processor. We want to be sort of a one-stop-shop-all-eco-depot.”

Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com