Happy New Year! I for one am looking forward to some good things happening in 2019. After all, there wasn’t much to celebrate in 2018. It started off with the implementation of China's National Sword policy, and the outlook seemed bleak from January on. We seemed short on solutions and options as we looked for ways to adapt to the changing reality of managing consumer-driven waste.
Still, there were a few rays of hope that provided the promise of progress to come.
Even with a near zero-level contamination threshold, Recycle BC maintained its access to Chinese markets. Its partners on the ground in Canada - Merlin Plastics, Cascades, and Green By Nature - developed and implemented innovative solutions to deal with plastics and fibres, creating domestic solutions that were less reliant on foreign markets outside their control.
The Canadian government led by hosting the G7 and made ocean plastics a priority. Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna moved to engage stakeholders throughout the supply and reverse logistics chain, reaching out to producers, retailers, and the recycling community to find solutions to improve our performance in collecting and re-circulating plastics back into the industrial process.
In BC, Ministry of Environment and Climate Strategy staff initiated a scoping process to determine a path towards further EPR programs and improvements. Their analysis of current program gaps and potential low-hanging fruit could identify new materials for inclusion under the Recycling Regulation in the near-future.
Local governments are working towards similar goals. Look for communities in Metro Vancouver to begin a process of engagement to determine where the best opportunities may be to divert and reduce waste, either through their own policies or by recommending policies to the provincial government.
On a municipal level, the city of Vancouver has generated groundbreaking work on single-use items that has huge potential for waste reduction. Through its zero waste 2040 strategy process, Vancouver engaged industry experts to identify and prioritize potential solutions to the daily generation of waste in the city, which could become a model for other communities to follow.
My awareness of and involvement in some of these activities is the source of my hope. It has led me to hold a more optimistic perspective for 2019. While we don’t have all the answers just yet, what we are seeing is leadership. We're seeing it from all levels of government, from industry stewards, and from grassroots organizers like the collectives of people, nonprofits, and local governments involved in the Share, Reuse, and Repair Initiative coming out of the Lower Mainland.
So while we may have a gap in solutions for now, we have no shortage of leadership. My optimism rests with all the individuals who are willing to roll up their sleeves and lead. I am thankful to those striving to make 2019 a better year for all of us. That would be a new year worth celebrating indeed.
Brock Macdonald, CEO
Recycling Council of BC
Canada's Longest Standing Recycling Council