‘Blue box’ funding unclear: Brown

Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown said the recent announcement by the province to start the Waste Diversion Ontario Blue Box Program in February is clearly a boon for the town’s recycling activity.
But as to how much of a cash infusion it will amount to, that won’t be clear for at least a few months, Brown noted.
“I’m waiting to see how it affects Fort Frances,” he remarked. “The town’s been submitting our tonnage to the province for the past couple years [while the WDO was in its formative stages].
“But as to how the money is going to be divvied up, we’ll see if they recognize how hard it is to recycle in the north,” he explained. “Is it going to be based on tonnage or simply on delivery?”
If the amount is based on tonnage, Brown said that won’t mean many dollars for Fort Frances. Between July, 2002 and August, 2003, the town diverted just 167 tonnes of recyclables to Koochiching County across the river.
By comparison, 7,500 tonnes of solid waste went to the landfill site here during that same time period.
(The 167 tonnes does not include glass products, which can be dropped off at the blue bins on Wright Avenue North by the Public Works building, where they are converted into road bedding).
The WDO’s Blue Box Program will work this way: Stewardship Ontario will distribute about $31-million annually to municipalities across the province which have a recycling program in place.
This money is collected by Stewardship Ontario from various companies which produce materials that are recycled (such as publishing companies for paper and soft drink companies for pop bottles).
Brown noted Stewardship Ontario has not begun collecting the funds to be distributed and that, after consulting the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), it’s likely no municipalities will be seeing any money until March or April.
Still, Brown said any bit of funding will be welcomed by the town, which spends $675/tonne to recycle materials when it could spend just $32/tonne to simply dump it in the landfill.
“The way I look at it, something is better than nothing,” he reasoned.
But Brown also said the WDO money is a long time coming, and something municipalities in the region have been waiting for since the days of the Northwest Ontario Recycle Association (NORA).
“Who knows? They [NORA] may not be gone if they had divvied up the money earlier?” he remarked.
NORA went under after the costs of picking up and transporting recyclables from communities in both the Rainy River and Kenora districts became too much for the organization to sustain.
It officially disbanded June 30, 2002.
WDO is a permanent, non-share, non-government corporation created under the Waste Diversion Act on June 27, 2002.
It was established to develop, implement, and operate waste diversion programs for a wide range of materials that include “blue box” waste, used tires, used oil material, household waste, electronic waste, organic materials, pharmaceuticals, and fluorescent tubes.
In related news, Brown is encouraging town residents to keep putting their recyclables into the “blue box”—and not the garbage can—until the new curbside pickup schedule takes effect starting Monday (Jan. 5).
Residents should have received the new schedules in their mailbox over the past couple of weeks. If you didn’t, you can pick it up at the Public Works building on Fifth Street West.
As previously reported, “blue boxes” now will be picked up following the same five-day cycle as the town’s garbage collection—but on a bi-weekly basis only.
(Fort Frances Times)