by Roger Rondeau
I read your Jan. 22 editorial regarding waste management and in particular the need for a new city program for curbside pick-up and processing of recyclable products. You make some valid points.
However, there are some points that need critical thinking. First, your premise that if we don’t do what you consider correct, i.e. initiate a universal city curbside recycling program, we will go back to the cave-man days of dumping our garbage over the river bank. All this bafflegab was unnecessary, and what appears to be a fear-mongering attempt to get your point across!
Second, you did not appear to first gather information about each of the recyclers. Some serious questions should have been inquired by a journalist:
How much subsidization/grants has each of the recyclers received in the past to shore up their infrastructure?
How much diversion credits does each of the recyclers receive yearly? Are each of the recyclers efficient in the management of their business/organization operations? For example, the not-for-profit has a management staff, including an education coordinator, as well as several other professionals. The city has an environmental and a sustainability arm which also each have education as part of their mandate. Just how many education experts do we need?
Therefore, how much management costs are paid off the top for each processor? How much does it cost each recycler to divert a tonne of waste from the dump?
Are the processors using the cheapest empty trucks going southbound to ship recyclables or do they have their own buddy system? Why is the Yukon government taking so long to adopt better measures for waste management in the Yukon?
The Utilities Consumers’ Group submits that all these organizations/businesses are needed to do an adequate job, but fairness and a level playing field are also required. The city does not have to stick its nose into private enterprise that works.
They need only to provide the necessary diversion credits (from an environmental fund which is an extra charge above the full cost on our present solid waste bills) in a fair and equitable way! Then the Yukon government pays the difference, as many Yukoners use the Whitehorse facilities and the territory also has an environmental mandate.
Third, you appear to support the city’s proposed $15 increase, yet you do not tell the public that this amount will increase their monthly solid waste bill by more than double (residents presently pay $10.30 per month in garbage fees, including the environmental reserve fund charge).
Fourth, you denigrate those citizens who voluntarily haul their own recyclables to a processor so as to justify your need of a city-wide universal program to subsidize the city’s curbside plan. You fail to look at the lowest common denominator, i.e. those too lazy or too busy to divert such waste on their own. These citizens simply drive universal programs by the city.
To supplement your case you use scare tactics that one recycler will soon charge gate fees and that diversion credits will cease. Where and why do you get this information? Diversion credits are to keep our present dump site usable for a longer period of time, saving everyone money. So why should this stop?
And this is already partly paid for by the three per cent surcharge on our present garbage bills.
You fail to tell the public that the current system of waste pick-up and compost collection is not a truly user-pay system as the City also wants us to believe. Again it is driven by subsidizing the lowest common denominator. Some citizens have a full container, others half; some citizens utilize compost collection, others not; yet others do their own backyard composting. Some citizens prefer to recycle their own, and you and the city wish to punish them! Why not look at progressive programs, rather than always demanding regressive fees and taxation?
Finally, you assume that Whitehorse citizens are not responsible nor capable enough to voluntarily reduce, recycle and reuse, just as the many city branches preach.
Roger Rondeau heads the Utilities Consumers’ Group.