P&M Recycling is bracing itself for the larger volumes that will surely be coming its way after Raven Recycling ends its free public drop off service after Oct. 15.
“I guess we just have to prepare for what’s about to come,” said P&M owner Pat McInroy.
Raven announced last week that it will shut the drop-off service because government support for recycling does not cover the costs of processing and shipping out materials. It will continue to offer a bottle return service and other programs.
P&M has dealt with influxes before when Raven has shut for short periods of time, like when they renovated the drop off area two years ago, said McInroy.
But this is the first time the closure has been indefinite.
“It’s not that we haven’t seen the volume come. This time I think we’ll be a little better prepared for it, have adequate number of staff,” he said.
“I don’t think every customer that Raven has is just going to switch over, I don’t think that that’s going to happen at all, but I do think we’ll see quite a bit more volume.”
Raven and P&M are the only recycling processors in the Yukon, and Raven currently handles about three quarters of the total volume.
P&M processes the recycling that lands at the bins at the dump, as well as that collected by the Yukon Blue Bin Recycling Society.
With Raven’s popular drop-off service shut down, it is likely that more recyclables will end up at the landfill until a solution is reached. That will be a setback in the Yukon and City of Whitehorse’s goal to divert 50 per cent of waste from the landfill by 2015.
McInroy agreed that payment for recycling services could use a boost.
Right now, processors get a $150 diversion credit from Yukon and Whitehorse per tonne of material they ship out.
They sell that material to recyclers, but prices plummeted in the commodities crash of 2008, making it a losing game for a lot of products.
Processors also get paid for collecting beverage containers where the government collects a deposit at the time of purchase.
But the fee he gets for processing that material hasn’t changed in 15 years, said McInroy.
“It’s a tough game. It’s tough to make everyone happy with this. But we certainly would appreciate a bit of a raise here. We’re still working on 1999 dollars, basically.”
The Yukon government is currently consulting on proposed changes to those rules that would see the fee go up by 5 cents a container, and could double the payment to the processor.
Raven said those changes have not come soon enough to keep it afloat.
McInroy said he does his best to balance money-losing materials with ones that bring in income.
“You can’t always win on every product. We try to balance it off. I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t hurt sometimes to send some of this stuff out, and actually it does, but we have to balance that off against some of the more valuable products and try to get the loads out there at the least amount of cost to us.”
P&M also has a $200,000 machine that processes plastic into oil, and that helps get rid of some of the money-losing plastics.
The machine was paid for by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency as part of an experiment to see if the technology would work in a cold climate.
McInroy not only saves on the costs of processing and shipping those plastics, but the resulting oil helps heat his downtown warehouse.
But the machine barely puts a dent in the plastic this territory uses, he said.
“I’m not going to ever say anything bad about the plastic-to-oil machine, but I think people would be a little shocked to know that we can only do 250 kilograms a day, and that’s with that machine running 24 hours per day,” said McInroy.
“We would need a machine that’s basically 12 to 15 times bigger than what we have, and that would probably take care of what Raven and myself produce, but it’s just a fraction of what’s out there.”
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at email@example.com