Collector says MMBC ‘wreaking havoc’

The new MMBC program for residential recycling is creating some serious challenges for local residents and their collector on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Sonbird Refuse & Recycling Ltd.

Under the MMBC rules there are some new items that can now be included but there are also items such as soft plastics that can’t.

The newly imposed system is wreaking havoc at the curb, said Chris Bird, owner of Sonbird.

"Some residents are doing their best while others are frustrated and taking it out on our employees. We are getting comments such as: ‘I’ve been doing this for years’, ‘all the rules have changed’, and ‘I am too confused so I’ll just put it in the trash.’ We’ve endured a lot of verbal abuse over the last little while," he said.

On a recent pickup day, Sonbird audited the contents of the recycling bins and the results were very concerning, Bird said.

"Over 20 per cent of the stops had product not acceptable to MMBC. Contamination included glass, Styrofoam, soft plastics, dual material products and unclean materials," he said.

Contamination is a serious issue as MMBC is authorized to levy fines for non-compliance, he said.

"We no longer receive funding for the recycle depot – it has been a disaster to not have that available to the public free. The funding for curbside is so greatly reduced that the system now wants to pay us for our recycling by the tonne when we bring it to Nanaimo. If we go into the community and the contamination rate is high and we don’t pick up your recycling because of contamination which was at 25 per cent on our last pickup, we then have less recycling to turn in and less revenue coming in," Bird said.

"Now we’ve got one tonne to take over there, we’ll get $100 for that recycling, and we’ve run our truck around the community at a cost of $500 a week to get $100 for recycling. If we do send contamination through the system, there are fines imposed by the company that’s running the MMBC program that are up to $1,100 per incident," he added.

Despite handing out new guidelines and sifting through where possible at the curb, there were 87 "soft plastic violations" in their last load on Wednesday, he said.

"The other big problem with this program is it doesn’t cover multiple-resident units, like apartments, trailer parks, condos, stratas."