Open letter to Community Services Minister Brad Cathers and Environment Minister Currie Dixon:
Like many Yukoners, I was shocked to hear that funding for recycling in the territory is so inadequate that Raven Recycling has had to stop accepting non-refundable recyclables. I expect that P&M Recycling will soon be in the same situation.
In light of this crisis, Yukon government’s decision to postpone spending $1.7 million in federal funding for recycling is perplexing.
Yukon government’s Solid Waste Action Plan commits to a 50 per cent reduction in waste by 2015, and improved recycling opportunities. The Solid Waste Action Plan is meaningless if recycling in the Yukon is reduced to only refundables.
Besides being environmentally responsible, recycling makes financial sense. Recycling keeps huge amounts of plastic, glass, metal and paper out of our dumps. In the long run it is far cheaper for governments to support recycling than to pay the $27 million it will cost to close Whitehorse’s current dump when it is full, and create a new landfill.
Individuals have a role in funding recycling. I support higher deposits for beverage container recycling, an expanded range of products being covered by fees for responsible disposal, user fees (e.g. for Blue Box service), and if necessary, tax increases, to enable the full range of recycling in the Yukon.
Businesses also need to take financial responsibility for the waste they produce.
But it is government’s responsibility to create the conditions that make recycling possible.
It is good that Yukon government is consulting about changes to the beverage container regulation and the designated materials regulation in order to increase funding for recycling. However, it will take time to put these regulations and other necessary policies in place to pay for a full recycling program.
Raven has been providing reports to governments, and lobbying for increased funding since 2008.
The 2014/2015 budget speech announced a surplus of $72.207 million.
There is no excuse for the Yukon to fail at this most basic of environmental responsibilities.
Yukon government urgently needs to increase diversion credits to Raven and P&M, to enable them to accept the full range of recyclables until a comprehensive system of policies and regulations is in place to fund recycling in the Yukon.