MUNICIPAL debate over whether to support the inclusion of milk and milk substitute beverage containers in the provincial deposit-refund system continued at two council meetings last week.
Allen Lynch, manager of the North Shore recycling program, was in attendance at District of West Vancouver to field questions from council members.
However, after nearly 45 minutes of discussion, it became clear that the North Shore recycling program is somewhat of an enigma - even to West Vancouver's councillors.
"So, is the Blue Box basically a loss-leader for your business?" asked Coun. Shannon Walker.
"I am not a business; we are government: the North Shore Recycling Program," responded Lynch.
When it came time to evaluate the benefit of adding milk containers to the depositrefund system, Coun. Bill Soprovich showed no hesitation in revealing skepticism over the staff recommendation. "I think it is inflationary to the consumer. . . . It's a scamming process, somebody is going to have their hand in there and I think it's Metro" said Soprovich, who demanded that Lynch offer an explanation as to what impact a few milk cartons would be.
"Right now, the milk containers - whether they are cartons or milk jugs - they are a cost to the municipalities . . . by putting them into the deposit-system, that cost would be removed," explained Lynch.
Lynch stressed that there is a public perception that municipalities gain by including plastic milk jugs in the Blue Box system, when in fact, the entire mixed container system, unlike the newspaper and mixed paper, does not currently net any revenue for West Vancouver district.
"Scavengers get most of them," said Lynch. "They are out there before the collectors come along."
Lynch encouraged council to approve the recommendation, noting that most milk cartons are currently going in the garbage system, for a fee of close to $100 a tonne.
"There is not a lot of awareness that you can actually take milk cartons back to one of the Encorp depots," said Lynch.
This disclosure baffled Coun. Michael Smith. "What is happening to the milk carton that you put in the Blue Box now?," he asked.
"The milk cartons don't go in the Blue Box," replied Lynch.
"Well it does at our house," said Smith to warm laughter from around the room.
In the end, Coun. Michael Evison brought council back to order. "I can't understand why we are spending so much time on milk cartons, because to me it looks like we are saving some money for the municipality . . . and I am very much in favour of it," he said.
With the motion passed - supported by all members save Soprovich - West Vancouver will send a copy of the staff report to the Minister of the Environment, Terry Lake, and Metro Vancouver in support of adding milk and milk substitute beverage containers to the deposit-refund system.
Meanwhile, City of North Vancouver's council unanimously agreed to support deposits for milk containers after minimal discussion.