At a meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, Kingston City Council will consider options to lease part of the Kingston Area Recycling Centre (KARC). Since 1989, the City has run its own Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at 196 Lappan’s Lane, with the KARC now ranking as the largest MRF in eastern Ontario. However, recent changes to provincial legislation have left the future of KARC as an MRF in doubt, with the City now considering alternative options for the site.
In 2021, the Ontario government passed the Blue Box Regulation under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016, which shifts the responsibility of blue box recycling onto the “producers” of materials. Under the Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) program, producers are required to “operate and pay for the collection and reuse, refurbishment, and recycling of blue box materials.” Such materials include products and packaging primarily composed of “glass, flexible or rigid plastic, metal, paper, or a combination of [those] materials.”
The transition to the new IPR program will occur over a three-year period, beginning July 1, 2023, and the City of Kingston wll have until July 1, 2025, to complete its transition. “As of the transfer date, the City will no longer receive funding (currently approximately $2.0M) for providing blue box recycling services to residents, and the City will cease providing blue box curbside collection, including the processing of these materials,” notes the staff report.
As part of the IPR program, producers have set up non-profit producer responsibility organizations (PROs), which will oversee the collection and recycling of blue box materials. Circular Materials is a national PRO established by companies such as Costco Wholesale, Kraft Heinz, Loblaws Companies Limited, McDonald’s, and Metro.
Circular Materials recently issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to identify potential partners for its “collection, transfer, and processing services across Ontario.” According to a staff report circulating ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, the RFP presents a “unique opportunity” for the City to lease the Materials Recovery Facility at KARC to parties interested in applying to Circular Materials. If successful, the parties would be able to continue operating the Lappan’s Lane facility as an MRF.
According to staff, the option to lease the facility to a party applying to Circular Materials is the “best opportunity for the City of Kingston to secure a favourable lease of the MRF.” With Circular Materials imposing a March 31, 2023 deadline for its Request for Proposal, the City needs to make the MRF available for public lease, which will allow prospective applicants to include the site in their proposal.
It should be noted the lease would only cover the materials recovery facility, not the entire KARC site, which also includes the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Depot and the Leaf and Yard Waste site. The report states that the City hired Birett & Associates to assess and value the MRF; they recommended the City offer “the MRF, administration offices, and a portion of the property for lease at the earliest opportunity.”
The report adds, “This approach is expected to provide the highest net return for the property by taking advantage of current demand for strategically located infrastructure resulting from the impending provincial Blue Box Program transition.”
As per the recommendations by Birett & Associates, City staff are calling on councillors to approve conditional offers to lease the MRF at Lappan’s Lane for up to 10 years, with companies submitting proposals to Circular Materials. Once the Request for Proposal is awarded by Circular Materials, the City of Kingston would then enter into a formal 10-year agreement with the successful company.
The report also states that machinery at the MRF, such as new conveyors and electrical systems which were installed as part of a 2019 retrofit of the facility, can be sold “in place” to the successful applicant. According to the staff report, “lease of the property will be at market rates to be established by a third-party appraisal with experience in the local commercial leasing market.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. inside Council Chambers, councillors will have the opportunity to hear from City staff about the proposal to lease the MRF, before voting on the recommendations.
While the staff report and provincial legislation make specific reference to “blue boxes,” Kingstonist has confirmed, through communication with the City, that the new IPR program applies to materials currently collected as part of the blue box and grey box programs.