Yukon government postpones recycling changes

The Yukon government is postponing plans to update recycling regulations so it can consult more with local businesses.

The Yukon government is postponing plans to update recycling regulations so it can consult more with local businesses.

New surcharges added to products like pop cans, juice bottles and alcoholic beverages were scheduled to start next month.

Fees were also slated to be added on large tires, electronics and electrical products in October.

The idea is to help pay for the cost of recycling.

The changes are on hold for about a year after the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce raised concerns, Community Services Minister Currie Dixon said.

Consultations about recycling regulations started as early as 2012.

Once the government decided what it was going to do it didn’t take those proposals back to the business community, Dixon said.

“We made changes based on what we heard and then implemented them instead of going back out to re-confirm what we were doing. It was correctly pointed out that we may have missed a step there.”

Now the government will organize meetings to hear from the different business sectors affected by the changes.

That’s good news, said chamber president Rick Karp.

Chamber members have concerns about how the changes will impact their businesses, he said, particularly small businesses.

“Any items that are electronic or have electronics in them, they would have to charge a surcharge. But they didn’t know anything about it, none of the businesses, these micro-small businesses, know anything about it,” he said.

“So the question is, will you and how will you communicate with all these small businesses that you’re going to require get registered and submit a surcharge?”

Karp also pointed to changes to tire surcharges. Under the new rules, tires greater than 22 inches would come with a $50 surcharge. Tires between 18 and 22 inches would have a $15 surcharge tacked on.

That’s going to have an impact on businesses, Karp said.

“Because people are not going to purchase tires here where they have to pay an extra $200. They’re going to maybe call a garage in Atlin (B.C.) and say, ‘Hey, stock some tires, I’m coming down.’”

Dixon said the way things are happening now is costing the taxpayers money.

“The general principle that we were trying to pursue is that that burden would be shifted from the taxpayer to the individuals who are purchasing and benefitting from the products themselves.”

In the case of tires, for example, the cost of recycling is supposed to be covered by tipping fees levied at the Whitehorse dump.

But the territory doesn’t charge tipping fees at its rural dumps. There, the cost is covered by the Department of Community Services.

“We bundle them up, we load them into a truck and then we pay to truck them south to a recycler.”

Dixon said change needs to happen.

“If, in our discussions and in our consultations, the business community is able to point us in a direction that will achieve our goals then we would be willing to explore that,” he said.

“At this point I don’t know, outside of the changes to the designated materials regulations, what that might be.”

Karp said a public meeting is being scheduled with local recycling processors to help explain how the recycling process works.

The government’s webpage now says the new regulations will come into effect April 1, 2017.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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