The signatures flow in. In last month’s column, I discussed the fact that the BC government has determined that the cost of recycling in BC should be borne primarily by the companies producing the bulk of material that must be recycled, namely the producers of printed paper and packaging. Those manufacturers have aligned into a non-profit agency called Multi-Material BC (MMBC). All that makes sense. The drawback in the whole scheme is that the proposed level of funding from MMBC to the recycling depots in the Southern Gulf Islands (SGI) is insufficient for these recycling depots to be sustainable.
In our case, $80,000 of current CRD funding would be replaced with about $24,000 of funding from MMBC. As obviously unsustainable as the MMBC funding is for Pender Island’s recycling operation, it is far worse for the other Southern Gulf Island recyclers who are not as financially sound as we are.
The BC government has historically supported recycling and has recognized the unique challenges of recycling in the SGI. As a result, the CRD has provided the bulk of funding to each of the SGI recycling operations. Although crucial, the CRD funding is only one of many sources of financing on Pender where recycling has always been a community effort. Equipment maintenance on the island can be expensive, with timely equipment repairs even more costly. Various skilled Penderites have donated hours of their time repairing some of our aged machines. Annually, we receive thousands of dollars worth of recyclable bottles that Penderites could just as easily return to the stores for the refunds. Similarly, thousands of dollars flow in voluntary membership fees, and each year we receive donations in cash and labor from people who believe in recycling and believe in this island.
The call went out last month for signatures on a petition to the government, explaining the financial realities of the proposed MMBC funding structure and its effect on recycling in the SGI. We were not surprised that Penderites lined up to sign up. The first 500+ signatures have been presented to the government, with a promise of more to come. If you have not signed the petition, you may still do so at the recycling depot and the hardware store. If you believe in responsible, sustainable recycling as a way to better take care of our earth and this island please don’t miss the opportunity to put your signature where your beliefs are.
Regular readers may have noticed that this column deals with the material and concerns raised here last month. The repetition is not an accident. The subject is simply too important and cannot be over publicized. We do have confidence that the government does care, and we want to make very certain that the concerns of Southern Gulf islanders are heard and understood.
Speaking of doing the right thing, I forgot to say thanks to Marty and Christine at the Pender Pharmacy. For several months now the pharmacy has switched to paper bags from plastic . . . great move and great leadership.
Finally, next time you are at the depot, say hello to the new friendly face. That face belongs to Niki (Nicola) Roberts, our newest depot staff member. Happy, hard-working new staff members and solid petition support for the depot from Penderites, more confirmation of why they’re all good days on Pender.