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Whitehorse council hears curbside and central collection recycling options

If city staff proceed with curbside collection info gathering, plan could be before council in June
Whitehorse City Hall is seen in a file photo. (Yukon News file)

As Raven ReCentre that has long recycled common household packaging for Whitehorse residents prepares to close its recycling drop-off bins, the City of Whitehorse is looking into options to replace the service.

Raven set a Sept. 15 date for when it will stop accepting non-refundable recyclables such as cardboard, paper, plastics and tin cans at the drop-off bins at its Galena Road facility. Other materials such as textiles and refundable containers will still be accepted. In an April 10 letter to the News, Raven’s president Jacqueline Bedard explained that other efforts including education, Raven’s Reuseful store, its tool-lending library and other work would continue.

Raven’s executive director Heather Ashthorn said that Raven would also continue to offer the city guidance as an active participant on its recycling committee.

“The time has come for this transition to take place. We’ll continue to be here to help,” she said.

The curbside recycling pivot comes as the territory is bringing in extended producer responsibility (EPR) which will make material producers responsible for managing the end of life for a variety of materials by setting up a plan approved by the Yukon government including requirements for the diversion of material including packaging from the landfill. The program is to be run by a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO). EPR won’t be fully planned for implementation until the end of 2025, according to the territorial government’s website.

Next steps towards the possible creation of an interim curbside recycling program were presented to Whitehorse’s council at its April 15 standing committees meeting with further consultation on curbside collection or a pivot to work on a central collection point for recyclables at the city’s landfill facility on a fee-for-service basis. Administration recommends continued stakeholder consultation with an eye on presenting a plan for a curbside collection program back to city council in June.

Presenting the options to council, city associate manager of waste services Ira Webb noted that when the city solicited feedback from local service providers in the fall, the results that came back suggest that there is capacity in Whitehorse to deliver a curbside recycling program.

Webb added that the PRO will be doing its own consultation on how common packaging products will be dealt with later this year. He suggested it would be best for city administration to participate in this process to ensure the level of recycling service it sets up in its interim program could be continued once EPR regulation is in place.

“This program would be funded through utility fees and managed by the city until such time as the producer stewardship plan comes into effect, at which point the city would likely turn over management of that program to producers, and once producers assume management of that program, the city may reduce utility fees that they put in place for the program,” Webb said.

He went on to explain the option of a temporary fixed collection point rather than curbside pickup as a way to ensure access to recycling services when Raven’s services cease.

“This would be intended as a temporary measure — not as a full-on replacement of the existing services for drop off — as there’s not adequate space or resources currently to manage the volume of recycling [that] was handled through the existing processors,” he said.

“At this time, this is not the recommended option if there’s uncertainty as to what kind of volumes would be received as well as the management costs.”

Earlier this year, the territorial government offered up a $2.4-million contribution towards starting up a curbside recycling program in Whitehorse. City officials were hesitant to immediately approve curbside recycling even with the territorial money over concerns it would be left operating a program that’s costs were not covered by EPR.

The matter will come back to city council for a vote on the direction of the city’s recycling efforts at next week’s meeting.

Contact Jim Elliot at

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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