The B.C. government has abandoned plans to include milk containers in its new provincial recycling regulation. Taxpayers will therefore continue to pay for the collection, recycling or landfilling of the containers.
Ratification of an Extended Producer Responsibility Regulation is expected early this year.
"This will be a good regulation, but the one thing missing is milk," says Ann Johnston, coordinator of the Southern Gulf Islands Recycling Coalition (SGIRC).
Other regional districts have written to Minister Murray about the dairy industry’s exemption, including the Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Capital Regional Districts. The Union of BC Municipalities also supports a move to bring dairy containers under the law.
The SGIRC assembled more than 20,000 signatures two years ago on a petition to have the government require that all Dairy Council products be included under the deposit/return regulation. The petition signatures came from 21 of the province’s 27 regional districts.
Says Johnston, "Now depot operators will have to continue trying to explain to perplexed and often angry recyclers why they can’t accept these containers.
"This, even after the Fraser Valley Regional District’s pilot project concluded that the Dairy Council’s approach is inefficient compared to a deposit/refund system, and that dairy products should be treated like all other beverage containers and should come under the deposit/refund regulation.
[With files from the Coast Waste Management Association. The February/March edition of Solid Waste & Recycling magazine will feature an editorial on this topic and milk packaging diversion in Canada.]