Urgent plea for sup­port of lo­cal blue box pro­gram

Tribune Express - - AC­TUA­LI­TÉS - NEWS - GREGG CHAM­BER­LAIN gregg.cham­ber­lain@eap.on.ca

Re­cycle Ac­tion Inc. runs a suc­cess­ful blue box pro­gram for ma­ny com­mu­ni­ties in Pres­cott-Rus­sell and helps pro­vide em­ploy­ment for those with li­mi­ted job skills while pro­vi­ding re­cy­cled ma­te­rial sup­ply mar­kets with tons of old news­pa­pers, tin cans, glass bot­tles and other items, which would over­load lo­cal land­fills.

Now Groupe Con­vex, the non-pro­fit so­cial ser­vice agen­cy, which crea­ted Re­cycle Ac­tion Inc., fears that the pro­vin­cial go­vern­ment’s new Waste Free On­ta­rio Act could re­sult in pri­vate sec­tor com­pe­ti­tion from out­side of the re­gion and eli­mi­nate all the good work the lo­cal blue box pro­gram has done.

“For us, main­tai­ning this va­lue-ad­ded ser­vice is a prio­ri­ty,” said Ca­ro­line Ar­cand, Groupe Con­vex exe­cu­tive di­rec­tor, to the Uni­ted Coun­ties of Pres­cott-Rus­sell coun­cil (UC­PR) du­ring its Nov. 22 mee­ting.

The le­gis­la­tion, if ap­pro­ved, would amend the Blue Box Pro­gram Plan which Ste­ward­ship On­ta­rio over­sees. The change that wor­ries Groupe Con­vex most concerns the pos­si­bi­li­ty that Ste­ward­ship On­ta­rio could give away the contract for post-col­lec­tion ser­vice to an out­side pri­vate contrac­tor, which could un­der­cut Re­cycle Ac­tion in a Re­quest-for-Pro­po­sals bid.

Post-col­lec­tion ser­vice in­cludes sor­ting, pro­ces­sing and se­pa­ra­tion of re­cy­clables for sto­rage and la­ter sale to re­cy­cled ma­te­rial sup­ply com­pa­nies. Ma­ny of the jobs that Groupe Con­vex clients now en­joy are at the Re­cycle Ac­tion Inc.’s re­cy­cling centre in Haw­kes­bu­ry.

Since Re­cycle Ac­tion Inc. be­gan, the re­cy­cling arm of Groupe Con­vex has ex­pan­ded its re­cy­cling ope­ra­tions to in­clude other ma­te­rials like cor­ru­ga­ted card­board and Sty­ro­foam, and al­so set up an elec­tro­nic waste re­co­ve­ry pro­gram to col­lect used and de­funct elec­tro­nics like old com­pu­ter mo­ni­tors, TV sets, ra­dios, di­gi­tal ca­me­ras and si­mi­lar items, di­sas­semble them to sal­vage com­po­nents for sale to dea­lers in useable re­cy­cled elec­tro­nics parts or who sal­vage cer­tain high-va­lue me­tal or crys­tal com­po­nents from used elec­tro­nic parts.

The Haw­kes­bu­ry-ba­sed bu­si­ness has al­so laun­ched a pro­gram for col­lec­ting and Ca­ro­line Ar­cand, di­rec­trice gé­né­rale du Groupe Ac­tion, de­mande au con­seil des Com­tés unis de Pres­cott et Rus­sell de sou­te­nir ses ef­forts en vue d’ap­por­ter des chan­ge­ments à la Loi sur l’On­ta­rio sans dé­chets, qui pro­té­ge­ra les pro­grammes de boîtes bleues et de re­cy­clage mis en place par des groupes sans but lu­cra­tif. re­cy­cling the type of in­dus­trial-grade plas­tic used for wrap­ping hay bales on area farms. The farm plas­tic pro­gram is now in its third year and has di­ver­ted more than 100 tons of farm plas­tic, so far, from area land­fills in Pres­cott-Rus­sell.

Ar­cand no­ted that Re­cycle Ac­tion re­pre­sents both eco­no­mic and so­cial be­ne­fits to the Pres­cott-Rus­sell area. It pro­vides jobs for Groupe Ac­tion clients who need work ex­pe­rience to help im­prove their job skills, part-time and sum­mer em­ploy­ment for lo­cal stu­dents, and it al­so pro­vides ma­ny Groupe Ac­tion clients with an op­por­tu­ni­ty to get out­side and be­come more in­vol­ved as part of the com­mu­ni­ty.

Groupe Con­vex has sent a let­ter to On­ta­rio En­vi­ron­ment Mi­nis­ter Chris Bal­lard out­li­ning its concerns, and is cam­pai­gning for lo­cal and re­gio­nal sup­port for Re­cycle Ac­tion Inc. Ar­cand no­ted the non-pro­fit agen­cy is al­so wor­king on a new bu­si­ness plan “to main­tain our pro­gram” in an­ti­ci­pa­tion of ap­pro­val of the Waste Free On­ta­rio Act.

All eight mayors on UC­PR coun­cil gave una­ni­mous ap­pro­val to a re­so­lu­tion of sup­port for Groupe Con­vex, which the agen­cy can present to the mi­nis­ter du­ring a fu­ture mee­ting.

“It is of in­ter­est to all mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties to get this blue box pro­gram si­tua­tion straigh­te­ned out,” said UC­PR War­den Ga­ry Bar­ton. “We are sup­por­ting the lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

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