Wednesday, December 8, 2010

We used to lead the world in wood pulp technologies

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.

Used domestic paper is loaded into containers and shipped to China where it is recycled and used by China's rapidly growing commercial printing industry, which sells to Canada, among other places.

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.
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  1. Norm, that original analysis highlighting the absurd inequality in the way waste/recycling is handled and accounted for in the case of crap dumped on your doorstep and a useful electronic device is the kind of fresh thought and articulate expression that brings me to Northern Insights regularly.

    As with taxes and supplying cannon fodder the poor bear the cost of environmental correctness. Think of the poor folks who while lucky enough to use a cheap/free older refrigerator, in the end bear the cost to have it de-activated and carted to the dump/transfer station - same thing with older vehicles. Or in classic BeeCee soak the poor and hard working style, how the carbon tax victimizes those in the north who have NO OPTIONS for public transit or to not heat their home.

    Since I'm on dial-up, I'll briefly deal with two prior posts here.

    One, do you know if that Cryer guy is by any chance the father of the Cryer that plays the brother of Charlie Sheen on 2 1/2 Men - there certainly is a resemblance.

    As to the "baked dozen" bringing down the leader, and how terrible that is, and breaking rules - I think this is overblown by everyone.

    After all, Gordo didn't step down by choice, and he won a mandate less than two years ago not only from his party but from the voters - of course as usual he and his minions had to lie their faces off to do it.

    Also - when it comes to breaking rules, governments in Ottawa and Victoria regularly break LAWS, much less party rules. For example, Harper's fixed election date law that he broke at the first whiff of what he thought was a chance to win a majority.

    Of course the BC liaRs are like serial criminals, tearing up contracts and being found guilty in court, negotiating in bad faith with the crown counsel and again being found lacking in court. Then there is the premier who in his home jurisdiction would be a convicted criminal, but chose to commit his dangerous activities where putting lives at risk as irresponsibly as he did is still just a misdemeanor - and we all believe that was the first time in his over half a century of breathing that he EVER drank and drove. Then there are all the improperly appointed special prosecutors, John Les, Kash and Karry Heed, Prosecutor Shop til you Drop StoneWally and I could go on.

    Hell, once I start thinking about the ongoing crime spree we call government in British Columbia the NDP start seeming like girl scouts or angels.

  2. "the kind of fresh thought and articulate expression that brings me to Northern Insights regularly..."

    Exactly. Everytime I go to the grocery store and reluctantly pay the almost $10 for toilet paper, I think of our extinct pulp and paper industry and I think of the loggers I know that sit at home these days, broken and broke, discouraged and too old to retrain. It breaks my heart.

  3. I liked this one too Norm. In my town one of our two thrice weekly rags used to try and be a decent paper. Since that one went tab they are both a waste of trees.



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