Friday, 12 June 2009

Trash Doesn't Go Away in Recessions Even If Markets Do: Montreal Announces New Subsidies for Recycling

One of the downsides to recession is the slump in prices for recyclable material. Last March the U.S. News and World Report asked the question: “Could the Recession Kill the Recycling Industry?” adding “High costs and bottled-up profits may push waste back to the landfills.” Even where governments continue to pay for recycling pick-up service (and many, particularly in the US, have cut back jobs) warehouses are bulging with paper, cardboard and other recyclables that are not selling very fast.

Yesterday the Montreal city government announced that it will be opening its contract with the major recycler in order to help it weather economic tough times. The Gazette quoted the city council member in charge of the dossier, Alan DeSousa, as saying: “It is not in anybody’s interest to see these companies go bankrupt.” At one point recently, an environmental complex used by the firm was overflowing with 3,000 tonnes of collected, but not yet recycled, material.

Under the new terms, the city will pay a subsidy of $35 a tonne, under a sliding scale, to a total expense of $3 million or until the average price per tonne exceeds $92.05 CAD. At that point the city will split profits with the firm. Collection is already a city responsibility.

This morning one of the commentators on Radio Canada noted that the contract opening is only the latest in a number of announcements which can be seen as early campaigning for municipal elections in the fall. If so, that’s not a bad thing since it suggests that environmental issues appear to be hot button electroal issues.

And, for sure, when ever times begin to look up, all that trash is going to be waiting for us, whether we dump in land fills, back yards, or simply store for a while until it can be sucessfully recycled. I'd opt for the latter, for sure.

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