Nanaimo Recycling Exchange responds to council decision

The following statement was issued by the NRE in response to the recent decision by Nanaimo City Council.

Nanaimo Recycling Exchange Board of Directors and Executive Director Jan Hastings thank everyone involved with the efforts to bring the NRE Zero Waste vision forward to the City of Nanaimo. In particular, Mayor McKay and Councillor Brennan who consistently supported the vision and belief held by many residents that Zero Waste is an important goal.

The NRE also extends many thanks to the volunteers that worked on the project, and the highly professional Nanaimo City staff that were tasked with providing reports for Council and advice to the NRE on the construction project.

“This lack of support for the NRE will be a disappointment for the many thousands of people that relied on the NRE” stated Monica Quinn, who has served on the NRE board for more than 18 years. Ms. Quinn questions why, after NRE‘s 25 years of dedicated service to the community, the decision about the fate of the NRE was held in-camera.

In spite of the NRE position that all stakeholders are needed to achieve the new 90% diversion target, Hastings believes the process available to present a vision can divide. “Going before Council with a vision that gets siphoned down to a financial ask for one organization is not the process the NRE would have preferred. It’s a process that unavoidably becomes adversarial rather than collaborative” stated Hastings. “Now we are seeing the result of such a process.”

Hastings went on to say, “A more collaborative process with Council would have produced a better result than NRE closure. As closure loomed, the NRE felt a deep responsibility and commitment to see the process through for the citizens of Nanaimo. Now we know for sure how this Council reacted to our vision, and the preference by the majority of Council for private sector recycling, regardless of diversion limitations.”

NRE Board Chair Rob Campbell stated, “This is a huge step backwards for our community. Leaving profit-driven recyclers in charge of zero waste recycling is like the fox guarding the henhouse. Not all recycling makes profit. How will that waste be managed now?”

Campbell went on to say, “For 25 years the NRE has been the driving force behind Nanaimo’s thriving recycling culture and has invested significant time and money into solving local waste problems. We are now forced to sell our rare centrally located Industrial land in the heart of Nanaimo. We hope to work with a new progressive Council that understands the importance of collaboration that is required to achieve the RDN’s 90% diversion target.”

NRE vice chair Ben Geselbracht noted, “Today 55% of recyclable materials are going to the regional landfill. Bold action in public policy and investment in infrastructure is required to deal with our community’s growing waste problem. Cities all around the world are taking these progressive actions and from the support I saw from our campaign, I think Nanaimo is ready for it.”

“The NRE remains committed to the Zero Waste vision, and to that end our organization will be taking time to formulate our next steps. We look forward to supporting progressive policy to address the serious problem of waste in our community,” stated Campbell.

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