In February 2010, Catalyst Paper suspended operation of its recycling plant in Coquitlam and later made the closure permanent. BC, once a world leader in the pulp and paper industry, has no remaining industrial capacity to recycle paper. The Elk River mill near Campbell River formerly used the recycled pulp but Catalyst closed that facility too.
Perhaps this is part of a strategy to de-industrialize British Columbia. (The Really Green Economy) Otherwise, why ship material across the ocean to be sold back to us after reprocessing. It is like shipping raw logs and buying lumber in return.
If our actual recycling capabilities equaled the PR rhetoric surrounding ‘reduce/reuse/recycle’ we would be in good shape. In fact, our main expertise is in creating new forms of taxation applied to consumers and advertising that exaggerates our real achievements.
I bought a new cordless telephone recently and noticed an environmental tax added to the charge. Of course, 12% HST was added to the tax as well. Tax on tax is called cascading, which Liberals apparently judge to be OK for consumers but unacceptable for businesses. Right, Mr. Hansen, Minister of HST prevarications?
The day of that purchase, I found a North Shore News on the front step. The free community paper is dumped by Postmedia (formerly Canwest Global) three times a week at every door in North and West Vancouver, which means that close to 200,000 of their papers hit the steps each week. Like many free community papers, NS News is heavy on advertising and very light on editorial content. As well, the paper circulates flyers and real estate supplements.
One paper delivered to our house was an interesting example. I separated the flyers and inserts and weighed the remaining “newspaper.” It was .13 kg, the separate commercial content was over 1.10 kg., a ratio about eight to one. On that day, NS News dropped, without subscriptions, about 75,000 kg. of advertising content on residents of this small part of Metro Vancouver.
When I bought a simple 4.5 ounce cordless phone, the environmental levy and GST was $0.95. If North Shore News paid an environmental levy equivalent by weight, they would owe about half a million dollars for a day’s flyers. In principle, there is no reason why advertisers consuming large quantities of material for goods quickly outdated, pay nothing while consumers buying electronic devices that may last years pay a recycling tax.
Even a small environmental tax on advertising flyers could fund a modern de-inking and re-pulping facility in BC, perhaps in a region of chronic unemployment like Downtown Eastside Vancouver. Useful resources would not be shipped to China and advertisers would pay costs they now push onto taxpayers. Of course, rather than pay environmental levies, publishers and advertisers would rather pay for political influence. And, PostMedia, can contribute friendly coverage to the helpful Liberal government, instead of cash.
If the ethic of reciprocity – the Golden Rule – applied, one creator of future trash would be treated like another. But, British Columbia does not work that way.