Why is VIRWIC targeting the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange?

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 corporationsProgressive 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.


VIRWIC Administration

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?

6 thoughts on “Why is VIRWIC targeting the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange?

  1. We should not have to support big business to recycle. It is about taking steps to protect our environment in every possible way, and has nothing to do with making money. If we continue with NRE anyone can recycle not only tha people who can afford it. Keep NRE going to help people do what they can to protect the environment.

  2. Public vs private services is a challenging issue to decide. Private services make more sense where people can choose which services they are willing to pay money for, such as home construction, landscaping, and private medical clinics. Public services make more sense when the added cost (to provide profits) for services would discourage use by the public. What if parents had to pay $500 a year for a private school vs minimal costs for a public school. What if we had to pay private contractors to plow snow from city streets in front of our houses, or had to pay $5 a bag for garbage pickup. Private industry’s main purpose is to make money and not to provide difficult services that are not financially viable.

    The private waste businesses will charge more money to recycle things that are not profitable, and many people will simply discard those recyclables in the garbage, or worse, will dump them on the side of the road. Of course, the “real” recycling residents will pay to the best of their ability, but the other 50% will more easily dump or landfill if the price is too high. NRE provides a nearly-free depot for all the difficult-to-recycle things like fluorescent bulbs, batteries, styrofoam, plastic bags and overwrap, used paint that will most likely be tossed in the garbage if NRE is not there to take them.

    1. Well said, if recycle is not easy and next to free, it will all end up in the landfill or on the side of Doumont Rd.

  3. It is a shame that once again, corporations control the future of our world. Good sense and efforts by common people are being thwarted by the few with greed and control as their focus. We should make it as easy as possible to recycle as much as possible. The world is turning to crap before our eyes, despite all the science and stats and evidence to support the need for recycling, but just like Trumps actions, the ignorant city councillors would rather build a hockey rink than a recycle depot. Why not stand up to the few people who are claiming they are losing part of their livelihood for the greater cause of cleaning up our town and planet. Its the same as oil producers lobbying government to kill development of alternate forms of energy. Time to say enough is enough and do what’s right for the planet or it all won’t matter at all.

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