Currently the Drumheller Regional Landfill offers free recycling of paint, both from residential and commercial architectural paint customers.
A recent proposed change by the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA) is threatening to change the free service and Tammi Nygaard, operations manager at the Landfill is fighting hard to prevent this.
According to the ARMA, in 2009, Alberta was considered at the forefront in environmental stewardship, with their introduction of a tire, electronic and paint recycling program.
The program was introduced to divert increasing amounts of waste materials from municipal landfills and provided not only a free commercial paint disposal, but also recycling.
The program however, seems to have become a victim of its own success.
A levy was introduced on paint purchases at the start of the program to fund this and due to a downturn in the economy, the sales have dropped but the volume of paint recycled hasn’t.
Chris Nielsen, of DBS Environtmental, a registered paint processor for the program, explained to The Mail that the paint they collect is on average 10 to 12 years old. “It’s a strange position to be in to be in a financial crunch like this and it is wholly attributed to the success of the program,” said Nielsen.
Recently, a loan from the Alberta government also needed to be repaid by the ARMA and the program is now in deficit.
To remedy the situation until paint sales rebound, the ARMA has proposed to temporarily reduce the incentive payments made to paint processors by 15 per cent, to come into effect on April 1, 2010.
This means the processors, who are already operating at a substantially reduced cost as a commitment to the program, will need to pass on the extra cost to the municipalities.
At present, municipalities pay nothing for the service as they receive a $50 incentive payment from the ARMA for each bin they have in place and they then pass this on to the processors as payment for picking up the bins.
Nielsen, the processor who recycles the paint from Drumheller and surrounding areas, explained to The Mail, “We have come to an agreement with the Town of Drumheller to introduce a fee of $50 on each paint recycling bin to cover the extra cost. We average about 40 to 60 bins for the whole zone each year.”
Ms. Nygaard is very unhappy with the ARMA’S proposed change as well as the short notice given, “I t will cost municipalities double to recycle the paint. This happened three months into a new budget and we were not advised of this so nobody has budgeted for this, how are we going to recoup those costs?”
At present, Nygaard isn’t sure how this extra cost can be paid. The fear is that the program will not be as successful if customers have to be charged for their paint recycling and she and other stakeholders from the Calgary area are therefore in talks with processors and ARMA to find a solution to the problem.
A meeting is taking place on Wednesday, March 24 with the Calgary Regional Waste Reduction partnership group where a representative from ARMA will attend to discuss this issue.