Nipigon puts recycling program on hold

Nipigon's recycling service has been so successful the community in northwestern Ontario has had to put the program on pause.

Nipigon taxpayers may be asked to help foot the cost to recycle

The community of Nipigon has acquired so many recyclables, it had to start warehousing paper, glass and bottles. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

Nipigon's recycling service has been so successful the community in northwestern Ontario has had to put the program on pause.

The community was accepting recyclables but, not long after a contractor began collecting them, the town was forced to warehouse bags and bags of cans, paper and bottles.

Nipigon mayor Richard Harvey said the main issue is that it costs the taxpayer more to recycle.

Nipigon Mayor Richard Harvey says a task force will figure out if taxpayers will pay a little more, to cover the cost of recycling. (CBC)
"Certainly, we know that they want to recycle, [but] are they still supportive of recycling if they know there is a financial cost to the individual taxpayers?”

A task force will now figure out if taxpayers will pay a little more to cover the cost of recycling.

“We've had to put the whole recycling plan on hold right now as we look at various options to come up with a sustainable, affordable way that we know will work for the unique situation from our region,” Harvey said.

Like every community in northwestern Ontario, it's difficult to find a market for recyclables. The costs to transport those recyclables also drives up the cost to offer the service, he added.

Finding a sustainable solution

About six years ago, the town tried running a recycling program through a private contractor. The contract was cancelled because the firm wasn't making money.

"If it's not municipally funded, it's very difficult — if not impossible — to run such a program anywhere in northwestern Ontario,” Harvey said.

“And, I don't actually know of any programs in northwestern Ontario that have proven themselves sustainable that do not have the financial support of a municipality."

Nevertheless, Harvey said offering the program is “the right thing to do,” particularly when one considers “the impact it'll have on the environment and the future to our children.”

Harvey noted Nipigon is in a unique situation, as it doesn't have to turn to recycling to buy a bit more space in their landfill, which currently has an estimated life span of 100 years or more.

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