On Jan. 4, Whitehorse City Council discussed the implementation of a residential recycling curbside collection and processing service. There were a number of concerns raised at the council meeting and reported in the news.
Upon reflection, I believe many concerns are based on misinformation. Others concerns can be solved and shouldn’t be used to stop progress or change from happening.
The biggest misinformation is that people are wondering why they should pay $15/month when they have been dropping off their recycling to P&M Recycling and Raven for free.
Recycling is not free. Recycling costs money. Raven had to close our public drop off in 2014 because we could not continue to pay for Whitehorse citizens to recycle their non-refundable materials. This situation has been temporarily solved through a new diversion credit agreement between the processors and the Yukon government. The agreement is a stop-gap measure until new systems are put in place.
Another piece of misinformation is that businesses don’t need to be paid for the services they provide. Both Raven and P&M have subsidized recycling services to Whitehorse’s citizens for decades. The City’s waste management system needs to include recycling. Without it, processors operate in an uncertain climate. We continue to operate day-to-day with limited resources and little ability to improve our infrastructure or plan for the future. How long can we last?
Waste management is a complex issue. As has been pointed out, residential recycling is a small portion of the waste stream. Construction and demolition and the ICI sector (Industrial, Commercial and Institutional) do make up most of the volume. Truth is the City has begun to put into place other systems that address those sectors. Increased tipping fees apply to cardboard and wood waste.
Effective waste management demands leadership from elected officials and citizens. While our public drop off was closed, we heard loud and clear that people want to recycle. We also heard they expected the City to do something about it.
If our community truly wants to recycle and divert waste from the landfill, I believe it is time to put a system in place. The City of Whitehorse’s desire to start a curbside recycling program is a good step.
Executive Director, Raven Recycling Society