Despite costs escalating as much as 70 per cent, Paintearth Regional Waste Management Authority brought back a popular program in May.
The Hazardous Materials Roundup was held on May 14, with materials to be dropped off at the new Castor fire hall.
The program, which used to be offered a couple of times a year, had its funding cut last year just days after the last roundup was held in the region.
According to Chris Nielson, part of the reason for the government slashing the funding had to do with the rapid closure of the Swan Hills waste incineration plant, which used to take all waste collected from these roundups.
Nielson is the owner of DBS Environmental services, a Lethbridge-based company which was used for this year’s collection program.
“We had a Cadillac service that served most of the country,” said Nielson.
“It’s closure has caused a huge ripple effect.”
According to Neilson, while the province has not totally reversed it’s stance on the program cut, it has softened it, offering $1,000 to municipalities that run the program.
Still, considering the municipalities in Paintearth County had to pay around $8,000 all together in addition to the program to the funding from the province, the $1,000 is not going to go to far.
“It’s going to be short term pain for municipalities,” said Nielson.
Nielson did note that the provincial government is looking at establishing a program in the province based on those in B.C. and Ontario called Expanded Reducer Responsibility.
Nielson says that the establishment of such a program would push the recovery costs for manufactured goods onto the producers, with the funding to be used to support programs like the Hazardous Waste Roundup.The legislation for the new program should be in place in the next 18 to 24 months.
Still, the little bit of funding provided now, nor the funding the Expanded Producer Responsibility program do much to offset increasing costs of disposal now that the Swan Hills plant is closed to all but medical waste.
Instead of all materials being transported there, operators like Nielson are now required to sort through materials turned in and arrange shipment to as many as 15 different plants in the United States and Canada.
Fortunately, volumes of materials do make a difference, and the low volumes that are turned in around the County of Paintearth keep costs lower than those of larger urban centres.
According to Kevin McDougall, the manager at Paintearth Regional Waste Management Authority, the hazardous materials collected in the region were on-par with previous years.
It is unknown as of press time what the total cost for the roundup will be to Paintearth Regional Waste, the county, or the municipalities in the region.
While Castor was the host community for this year’s roundup, there were also drop off sites available in Coronation and Halkirk.