Sask. shakes up recycling plan

Responsibility shifts to industry | Recycling program ready to launch in 2014 across province

Saskatchewan should have a provincewide multi-material recycling program by early next year.

The government recently approved regulations regarding household packaging and paper stewardship.

The regulations allow an industry group known as Multi-Material Stewardship Western Inc. to now develop the recycling program for printed paper, newspaper, cardboard, plastic, metal and glass packaging.

Marlon Killaby, manager of waste stewardship and recycling with the provincial environment department, said MMSW will work with stakeholders and municipalities to come up with a business plan that sets out what industry will pay to fund the program and how much municipalities will be reimbursed.

MMSW is a non-profit industry organization representing the industries that produce the products included in the regulations.

It will present Saskatchewan environment minister Ken Cheveldayoff with the plan on or before Aug. 6.

“Once that plan has been ap-proved, the expectation is the ministry will work with municipalities across the province to implement it,” Killaby said.

“We don’t expect anything to be fully implemented provincewide until the early part of 2014.”

There are already 116 communities that offer recycling programs, along with 13 regional waste management authorities that include another 209 municipalities.

The new program shifts responsibility for managing and financing recycling programs from the municipalities to industry and consumers.

The industries under the regulations will have to either participate in the program that MMSW develops or operate their own collection and recycling programs.

Currently, communities that offer recycling are paying the entire cost. Killaby said the program, once established, will pay up to 75 percent of the cost.

Communities have the option to participate in recycling collection. In cases where the community chooses not to participate, industry will have to offer some alternative for collection.

Communities also have to decide the type of collection system that works for them — curbside pickup or a central depot.

A highly efficient curbside program even in a small place could collect more tonnes of material than a central depot system.

He said waste haulers have also said that having curbside pickup in small towns is effective.

“They can go from small community to small community with one truck and compress the material,” he said.

Rural residents typically have access to central depot bins in nearby communities, and that may continue.

Joanne Fedyk, executive director of the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council, said she was glad to finally see the regulations in place after consultation began seven years ago.

She said recycling programs across the province should be more consistent as a result.

The SWRC wanted 100 percent of the costs funded by industry, not 75 percent, but she said the shift will still help more recycling take place.

The province estimates that 40 percent of household waste could be recycled.

Fedyk noted the regulations include most of the products that are currently being collected by municipalities so there won’t be a significant mind shift for consumers.

On the other hand, paper recycling has been available for years yet large amounts of paper products are still among the least recycled.

And Fedyk said there is no program at all for the small yet dangerous segment of household hazardous waste so more recycling efforts are still needed.

The move to an industry-funded model is not unique. Manitoba, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and some of the Atlantic provinces have such programs.

Industry’s costs will be determined as the business plan is developed, Killaby said, but are expected to be minimal and charged back to the consumer.

Other industries that already operate programs similar to this include scrap tires, electronics, used oil and waste paint.

Consumers pay an environmental handling fee at point of sale, and the fee is used to manage the recycling program.

Cheveldayoff said expanded recycling opportunities will extend landfill life, improve the environment and create new business and employment opportunities.

In the last three years, Saskatche-wan has provided $6.5 million in bridge funding to municipalities to maintain their recycling programs as the MMRP regulations were being developed.

The MMRP will not replace the SARCAN beverage container collection program.

  • Donate extra renovation materials, paint and old fixtures. It benefits organizations like Habitat for Humanity and reduces waste in landfills.
  • Offer books and magazines to a care home, school, library or hospital after you’ve read them.
  • Check to see if your community has a designated dropoff for lawn leftovers such as leaves and grass clippings. If not, use your mower to mulch grass clippings back onto the lawn or compost the materials.
  • SARCAN accepts old TVs, telephones, computers, audio and electronic equipment, used paint and much more. When returning materials to SARCAN, sort the containers by material type and remove all caps.
  • Find more recycling tips at saskwastereduction.ca and recyclesaskatchewan.ca.