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Recycling depot continuing on in the face of crisis

Monday, 25 November 2019. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Recycling depot continuing on in the face of crisis

Recycling depot continuing on in the face of crisis

By Jess Harrington

A story in the Sept. 25 issue of Shootin’ the Breeze chronicled how the combination of the closure of overseas markets and the underdevelopment of domestic industry has left municipal recycling depots across North America in crisis, sitting on a backlog of virtually unsellable materials.

In the week following publication of this story, Brent Kenney, owner of Pass Beverages recycling depot in Crowsnest Pass, ceased the collection of plastic, tin, cardboard, paper and glass recyclables. He felt the cost of continuing to participate in a glutted market was too high.

Until this cessation, Pass Beverages had been contracted by the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass to provide these collection services to residents. The business’s pulling out has left a vacuum that, so far, the municipality has been unable to fill, as stated in a press release Oct. 28.

“The request for proposals for recycling services closed on Oct. 18 with no proposals received,” the release reads.

“The municipality is [still] actively seeking another contractor to take over the recycling services in the Crowsnest Pass, and as such will be reissuing an open-ended request for proposals.

“However, based on the widespread issues facing other communities, it is not known when and if one can be located. Municipal council will continue to look at possible solutions so we can bring this program back to our residents.”

A handful of local entrepreneurs are working on solutions, including one company now offering a stopgap curbside collection program for the Pass.

In the Sept. 25 story, we reported that these market pressures have put the K.J. Cameron Services recycling depot in Pincher Creek in a similarly tenuous position.

Owner Wes Whitfield has appealed to the Town and MD of Pincher Creek for a financial “top up” on his joint contract with the two governments to help move a backlog of materials.

In October he was able to move out two truckloads of compacted cardboard. However, he is still sitting on over 90 one-tonne bales of unsold cardboard.

As of Nov. 12, the town and the MD have agreed to provide $750 each for a total $1,500 in assistance by the end of the year.

Throughout a difficult fall, Wes has been able to hang on, and is still collecting all types of materials from users in Pincher Creek and the surrounding MD.

In light of market conditions, Wes says the collection contract for Pincher Creek will likely need to be renegotiated, and the municipal recycling levy may have to be raised. He acknowledges that this is not ideal, but hopes residents will see the necessity.

“Right now the fee is about $3 every month,” he says, “and I know nobody likes to see their taxes go up. But how much do people pay for Netflix every month?

“Unfortunately, the costs [of recycling] are continuing to rise, so people need to ask themselves what the value of such a service is to the community.”

Wes hopes he can continue providing service to his community in 2020 and beyond.

The Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill is currently able to take recyclable cardboard, but cannot accept plastics or paper.

To read our original piece on the recycling crisis, click here.