Yukon government updates recycling regulations

Yukoners can expect to pay a little bit more for their milk, computers and kitchen appliances once the territory's new recycling regulations kick in.

Yukoners can expect to pay a little bit more for their milk, computers and kitchen appliances once the territory’s new recycling regulations kick in.

Yesterday, Yukon government officials announced changes to the territory’s beverage container regulations and to the designated material regulations.

Those stewardship programs, which require consumers to pay an additional upfront fee on most beverage containers and some tires, are being expanded.

Starting Aug. 11, there will be a 10-cent surcharge and five-cent refund for milk and milk substitutes, such as drinkable yogurt and soy milk.

For containers 750 millilitres and more, the surcharge is 35 cents and the refund is 25 cents.

And on Oct. 11, consumers will pay more at the till for products such as tires with rim sizes greater than 22 inches, computers, cell phones, kitchen appliances, vacuums and clocks.

The surcharges are collected into Yukon’s recycling fund and help pay for the collection, processing and transport of materials.

The changes aren’t exactly new, however. The government initially proposed them in Sept. 2014.

It’s part of the government’s plan to fall in line with jurisdictions across Canada, said Jennifer Dagg, a manager with Environment Yukon.

“This is a big step in terms of evolving our current recycling system and solid waste management,” she said.

“We selected the surcharges based on what other jurisdictions charge.”

The changes to the stewardship programs are a long time coming.

The beverage container rules hadn’t been updated since 1992, except to add Tetra Paks to the regime about 10 years ago.

And before this year, no other items had been added to the designated material regulations since 2003.

Joy Snyder, executive director of Raven Recycling, has been calling on the territorial government to expand its beverage container regulations for years.

She said she was excited to see new materials added to the existing programs.

“That’s movement in the right direction,” she said.

“It’ll ensure there’s a system in place to fund the recycling of those materials.”

Snyder believes the beverage container regulation should be expanded to all containers, and include products such as tin cans and yogurt.

“That’s called extended producer responsibility,” she said.

“It’s a proven way of dealing with recyclable material.”

Dwayne Muckosky, Yukon’s director of community operations and programs, said the changes might be one step towards extended producer responsibility, or EPR, in the territory.

In southern Canada and in many countries around the world, EPR laws require manufacturers to fund and manage recycling and disposal programs for their products.

But there is no EPR policy in the Yukon.

“It’s been nationally recognized that there are challenges to implementing EPR in the North,” he said, “for a number of reasons, including the distance from markets and the small population that is spread out over a large geographic area. We’re trying to take the approach of one step at a time.”

The government announcement came a day before the start of the Association of Yukon Communities’ annual general meeting in Watson Lake.

In March, the City of Whitehorse drafted four resolutions it wanted to present to the Yukon government at the meeting.

One of them encouraged the government to develop and implement an electronics recycling program.

For a full list of products that fall under the stewardship programs visit www.YGrecycles.ca.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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