Have you heard of the Vancouver Island Recycling & Waste Industry Coalition, otherwise known as VIRWIC? VIRWIC’s website states, “We are small business owners of independently owned recycling and waste companies on Vancouver Island.” That may describe a few of their members, but quick perusal of their website reveals that four of VIRWIC’s twelve members are large multinational corporations – Progressive Waste Solutions, Emterra Group, Cascades and Waste Management.
Why would an organization with the backing of some of the biggest players in the recycling business be lobbying against our non-profit community recycling centre?
To: City of Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay and Council
RE: Request that the City not provide a government subsidy to the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange, which competes with private recycling depots.
The Vancouver Island Recycling and Waste Industry Coalition (VIRWIC) wants local government to meet its recycling and solid waste objectives, the public to receive high quality service at a reasonable cost and industry to have a stable investment environment.
We request that City of Nanaimo stop subsidizing the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange, which is in competition with the private recycling depots that pay taxes and hire employees locally.
Our rationale is as follows:
1. The City of Nanaimo, should not be in competition with the private sector or provide subsidies to the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange to compete with the private sector.
2. If the City of Nanaimo would like to provide financial resources toward recycling, then the city should work with the recycling industry to develop fair, market based, policies that support the City’s objectives.
3. Open and fair competition in the sector will create value for residents while keeping costs low. Industry investment in infrastructure can only happen when government sends a clear signal that it will not negatively influence the open competitive market by providing subsidies to select groups or by building competing infrastructure.
We have learned that a recycling consultant from Victoria will be speaking on behalf of VIRWIC at the Regional District of Nanaimo Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday Feb. 13th, immediately following the delegations in support of the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange. [RSVP on Facebook – fill the seats!]
We know that our local politicians and business leaders have been lobbied aggressively by representatives of VIRWIC. Will the opinions of this corporate backed special interest group hold more sway than the nearly 7000 residents of the Regional District of Nanaimo who have made it very clear that they want the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange to continue serving our community?
Is the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange really that much of a threat? No, it is not. The NRE began serving this community more than 25 years ago, long before recycling was a highly profitable business. The NRE has co-existed with private recycling businesses for many years. In addition to being the region’s only zero waste focused recycling depot, the NRE has educated a generation of RDN residents about recycling. The NRE also partners with other non-profits to provide skills training and work for people with barriers to employment.
So why is VIRWIC targeting the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange, which poses no threat to their businesses or their workers? The answer is quite simple. Many recyclable materials are not profitable to recycle. VIRWIC knows that the City of Nanaimo and the RDN are going to have to pay someone to divert those non-profitable materials from the landfill and we believe they want that government subsidy for themselves. Pretty ironic right, considering the content of that letter above?
Where would you rather see your tax dollars spent?