What is allowed to go in curbside recycling bins and what isn't is changing under the Multi-Material BC system that launches May 19.

B.C.’s bluebox recycling shift may bring some confusion

Multi Material BC system takes effect next week, but some recyclables must go to depots, not curbside bins

B.C.’s new industry-funded recycling system debuts May 19 and the main change for residents is the ability to put many more types of containers and other packaging in the bluebox.

Milk cartons, coffee cups, aerosol containers, aluminum foil packaging and plant pots are just a few of the new items accepted curbside under the Multi-Material BC system.

But figuring out what can go in will be tricky.

Just about all plastic jugs, bottles, jars and clear clamshells can go in the blue box.

But plastic foam trays from the grocery store meat counter have to be taken to a depot, as does the plastic shrink wrap on top of it, grocery store plastic bags and various other film plastics and styrofoam.

And there’s a long list of other items that either aren’t accepted or can only go to depots. (A full list is at recyclinginbc.ca.)

Also required to go to a depot is any glass to prevent bottles and jars from breaking and contaminating other recyclables.

Unless, that is, if you live in cities like Richmond, Coquitlam and Langley City, which have opted for curbside pickup of segregated glass.

B.C. Bottle Depot Association executive director Corinne Atwood predicts plenty of confusion surrounding the rules on what can go in blue boxes.

“People aren’t going to pack their glass jars to depots,” she said. “They’re going to pitch them in the garbage bag.”

Depots won’t necessarily accept everything that MMBC directs their way either – she said many have decided there’s not enough money in it for them.

“Some of our members have already put up signs in their depots saying we don’t accept these materials.”

MMBC managing director Allen Langdon said the decision to accept mainly soft plastics at depots only and refuse some types – such as crinkly cellophane from flower bouquets – is because there are better local markets for some recyclables than others.

“If we get the crinkly material in often it will end up offshore instead of being recycled locally,” he said.

Langdon predicts consumers will like the new system.

“We’re expecting the residents to be enthusiastic in putting lots of additional materials in the blue box,” he said.

One of the advantages, he said, is that the list of what’s accepted in blue bins, what isn’t and what has to go to depots will now be consistent across B.C.

“We have a common list of materials accepted so that you’re not having to re-educate yourself – the same list of materials is accepted whether you’re in Surrey, Vancouver or Langley.”

But it’s far from a universal system, with some Lower Mainland cities – such as Delta and Abbotsford – opting out, at least for now.

And MMBC has yet to strike deals covering some other areas of the province as well, although curbside or depot service will also roll into new communities like Terrace and Smithers that have never had it before.

Most Lower Mainland cities have opted to accept payments from MMBC in return for continuing to act as recyclable collectors under the new system.

Coquitlam is an exception that has allowed MMBC to hire its own contractors to replace the city’s service.

“At launch we’ll be covering 75 per cent of the province,” Langdon said, adding MMBC will see what its budget allows in future years to plug “strategic gaps” in the collection system.

“This is going to be evolution,” he said. “I don’t see where we are today to be necessarily permanent.”

The provincially mandated system is intended to make companies that generate waste responsible for recovering it, allowing municipalities to potentially reduce their property taxes.

But critics like Atwood contend MMBC’s member companies will raise their prices to consumers to cover their costs and residents whose cities have opted out of the system will end up paying twice.

“When you break down the fees they’re often less than a cent per unit,” Langdon responded. “I don’t know that you can necessarily say there are going to be higher consumer prices.”

Some big question marks remain – including whether the newspaper industry, which refuses to pay MMBC fees, will set up its own stewardship system and redirect newsprint that generates much of the revenue from recyclables that MMBC depends on.

There are also other business sectors continuing to fight the MMBC model, demanding more accountability and other reforms, in some cases threatening legal action.

“There’s just so many confusing and complex aspects to this program from the perspective of business,” said Mike Klassen, B.C. director for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. “That’s why we asked for a time out. But the government is pressing ahead.”

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Harrison students take on the Bunny Run

Harrison Hot Springs Elementary students dressed up for the Easter event

No more mobile vendors on Harrison beach

The approval of an updated business licence bylaw means Nolan Irwin is without a cart

Crown seeking 30 months for Abbotsford vehicle theft, flight from police, Chilliwack crash

Michael Joseph Hasell has 47 criminal convictions on his record in B.C. and Alberta

Harrison Festival releases 2019 line up

The 41st annual Harrison Festival of the Arts will be held from July 12 to 21

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select routes

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries to be sold on Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

VIDEO: Agassiz, Harrison celebrate National Pet Day

From cats and dogs to lizards and chickens, residents showed off the animals that enrich their lives

Man driving wrong way on Highway 17 ‘seriously’ injured after crash: Surrey RCMP

Police say the driver hit a transport truck, then another car after merging from the off-ramp onto highway

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

Foreign national arrested in connection to thefts at YVR

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Police pursue pesky porker on Vancouver Island

‘This was allegedly not the pig’s first escape’

Rare ‘Snow Tower’ tree blooming in Vancouver city park

A plant rarely grown in Canada is now flowering at the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park

Westjet tries again to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination

Former flight attendant claims airline broke contractual promise to create harassment-free workplace

Most Read