Founded in 1992, the Manitoba Association of Regional Recyclers
(MARR) has served as the provincial forum and voice of the recycling
industry. It exists as an organization of diverse recycling collectors
and processors committed to promoting cost-efficient and effective
recycling in Manitoba. MARR membership is representative of a
wide cross-section of Manitoba municipalities, villages, towns
and cities, as well as not-for-profit and small for-profit recycling
organizations. MARR provides its members with an ever-increasing
provincial network for timely information sharing on industry
trends and best practices, as well as a means for appropriate
lobbying to collectively address these same issues with all levels
MARR’s goals are to improve information sharing between its members,
municipalities, MPSC, and the Province of Manitoba, as well as
with other industry partners and organizations; enhance the recyclable
material markets; develop stronger beneficial relationships with
all stakeholders in order strengthen MARR’s negotiating and advocacy
abilities; and aid its members to become more cost-efficient recyclers
and environmental stewards.
Since its inception, MARR has accomplished a number of objectives
that demonstrate its endurance, commitment, flexibility, openness,
and impact in Manitoba. MARR has:
- Expanded its original mandate to encompass municipalities
and small for-profit recyclers as members;
- Helped mentor new recycling organizations and strengthen existing
- Provided grassroots market information and an effective networking
forum for the industry and its members;
- Provide liaison / lobbying support from members and the industry
to all levels of government.
- Generated innovative marketing, processing, and promotion
and education (P & E) ideas through its quarterly meeting opportunities;
- Provide timely educational tours, workshops and conferences
for its members and industry partners.
Through this Regional Recycling Best Practices Research and Promotion
Project, MARR planned to strengthen the capacity of its members
to respond to changes in the industry by:
- Exploring the opportunities and challenges facing Manitoba
communities / municipalities in relation to recycling and integrated
waste management; and
- Providing support to municipalities in promotion of these
best practices (operational, financial, community education,
etc.) through further information sharing opportunities (website,
links to other organizations, mail outs, workshop / conference
To reach these goals, three objectives were identified:
- Conducting case studies of representational Manitoba municipalities
/ communities of varying size, location and current recycling
capacities to gain insight into the current state of the industry
including successes, challenges, innovations and future plans.
- Creating a mentoring database to document a list of knowledgeable
persons so that these persons may be accessed to serve as ongoing
resources to other municipalities, communities and/or environmental
organizations. This data gathering also included documentation
and web posting of the unique organizational history of MARR
as well as a map highlighting service features of each MARR
- Co-hosting a provincial “State of the Industry” recycling
conference in the near future to share information, present
research results and gather additional industry feedback.
Within the membership of MARR is a repository of experience and
perspectives. This project has enabled many of these observations
to be collected in one place. One of the advantages of doing a
project such as this is the assembling of this knowledge, which
can otherwise be lost as the individuals forget the information
they had, or move on from their recycling positions. As well,
the following documentation of the history of MARR and recycling
in Manitoba provides the historical context for today’s issues
and tomorrow’s challenges.
A) A History of MARR and Recycling in Manitoba
MARR began in the fall of 1992, forming out of several meetings
that were organized at the initiative of Manitoba Environment
(now Manitoba Conservation). The need for a support network was
identified among recycling organizations. Recycling had been recognized
as a social and environmental concern to be addressed by society
in general, and several organizations had been created to meet
The mission statement of MARR was stated as: “to enhance the
capabilities of Manitoba not-for-profit recycling organizations
and to provide a means for concerns to be expressed and partnerships
formed with various levels of government, industry, and other
Although recycling of metals was firmly established over previous
decades by for-profit scrap metal companies, general recycling
of a variety of household materials was just beginning in the
late 1980s and early 1990s. By 1992, however, a number of communities
had recycling programs, of one kind or another. Some of the players
then were the provincial Manitoba Environment and federal Environment
Canada (especially the Environmental Partners Fund) who were supporting
beginning and innovative programs.
Markets for recyclable materials were also developing. For example,
Western Scrap Metals in Winnipeg was expanding beyond traditional
metals to include glass and plastics. The Abitibi newsprint paper
mill at Pine Falls, Manitoba, began to accept newsprint for blending
into its existing process. However, it could only take limited
amounts of extremely sorted “#9” grade - which was exclusively
plain newspapers, with no flyers or other paper. There was no
comprehensive stewardship program, although Manitoba Soft Drink
Recycling (MSDR) accepted soft drink (and some other beverage)
containers and paid a small reimbursement to the supplying consumer
or recycling organization.
Most recycling was done by small non-profit organizations that
had sprung up. Examples included the Recycling Council of Manitoba
in Winnipeg (formed in 1985) and the Westman Recycling Council
(1989) in Brandon. These organizations set up demonstration recycling
drop-off depots in shopping mall parking lots, often in tandem
with MSDR depots. As well, a host of volunteer groups operated
in other towns and rural areas.
MARR started as an informal network. Regular meetings, guest
speakers, and facility tours became the cornerstones of MARR activities.
Membership was initially limited to non-profit organizations.
Municipalities were only infrequently involved, and the MARR’s
mandate was seen in the non-profit, rather than the for-profit
sector. At the same time, however, the for-profit sector was expanding,
with waste haulers (such as BFI and Canadian Waste), waste recovery
companies (such as Crown Packaging, now Metro Waste Paper Recovery),
and brand new companies (such as Phoenix Recycling in Winnipeg)
making their appearance. Often, representatives from these for-profit
companies were invited to speak at MARR meetings and tours were
arranged at their facilities.
An early, and continuing, issue relates to the degree of co-operation
that is desirable, or feasible, among MARR members. How much processing
and marketing should be done at the local level, and how much
can be done jointly? Sharing of equipment has turned out be very
difficult, with a few portable glass crushers about the only example.
A “Request for Proposals” by MARR in 1994 to elicit ideas for
joint marketing of materials on a province-wide basis did not
result in any workable suggestions, and has not been pursued since.
MARR has always been an excellent way for members to exchange
information and learn about the latest trends. These were three
significant changes which emerged in the first years after MARR
formed: the rapid rise and then collapse in paper prices in the
1994 - 1996 period, the creation of the Manitoba Product Stewardship
Corporation (MPSC) in 1995, and the installation of the de-inking
plant at the Pine Falls Paper Company (formerly Abitibi) in 1996.
All of these show how changeable the recycling scene was becoming,
and how trends could be inter-related. The low paper prices in
1996, for example, were mitigated by the new Pine Falls market
which could: accept a broader range of paper (#8 grade), was relatively
close by, and was offering long-term contracts. As well, consistent
MPSC funding smoothed out more volatile sales revenues.
The creation of MPSC was a development that grew out of the Waste
Reduction And Prevention (WRAP) Act of 1990. The first initiative
was the Beverage Container and Packaging Regulation. During this
time, as mentioned, the response was Manitoba Soft Drink Recycling,
which was established by the industry. In 1995, a more comprehensive
approach was desired. The Beverage Container and Packaging Regulation
was repealed and replaced by the Multi-Material Stewardship Regulation,
which created the statutory corporation of MPSC.
After MPSC started, much of the discussion at MARR meetings revolved
around the new stewardship program, its funding, and its requirements.
(Ken Friesen was important in this process as he served for a
while as both MARR President and on the Board of Directors of
MPSC.) As well, since the stewardship funding was reserved for
municipalities, municipalities became more prominent in the recycling
field. More money was now available to do more recycling, but
municipalities would be the directors of the money. On the eve
of the formation of MPSC, in 1994, MARR opened its membership
to municipalities. Two years later, in recognition of the increasing
role of the for-profit sector, membership was expanded again,
this time to include small for-profit recycling businesses.
The new Multi-Material approach was very favourable to enhanced
recycling, for two reasons. First, it covered a broad range of
materials (newspapers and magazines, aluminium cans, glass, steel
cans, and #1 PETE plastic (e.g. pop) bottles, to start, with more
being added later). Second, 80% of municipal recycling costs were
to be covered by the stewardship program. The theory underlying
the program was “distributor responsibility,” which was to evolve
later to Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR. (A major limitation
with MPSC was that only the distributors of beverage containers
were required to be financially responsible to the program.)
At the same time as MPSC, the Tire Stewardship Board (TSB) was
created to deal with scrap tires. Municipal members, especially,
of MARR were very interested in tires, and MARR arranged tours
of tire processing facilities in Winnipeg and Winkler.
In 1997, the Used Oil, Filters and Containers Stewardship Regulation
was passed, with the Manitoba Association for Resource Recovery
Corporation (MARRC) set up to administer that program. The approach
to used oil represented an evolution from the TSB and MPSC, in
that MARRC (Board governance and related levies and programs)
were designed by industry rather than by government legislation.
Many municipal MARR members as well as some non-municipal ones
(such as Portage and District Recycling) took advantage of the
opportunity to establish a used oil EcoCentre in their community.
MARR members were, and continue to be, affected by these government
stewardship policies. MARR has also made its collective views
known, for example, in a letter regarding the MPSC business plan
of 2004 - 2007 where MARR expressed its concerns about changes
to the funding categories, revision of the funding formula structure,
and the maintenance of the 80 / 20 partnership structure. MARR
also recommended raising the beverage levy to three cents, and
expanding the levy to a broader basket of materials.
Quarterly MARR meetings were fine, but a need was expressed by
MARR members to go beyond that and participate in larger conferences
to bring together partner organizations as well as more input
from guest speakers, exhibits, and tours. The first such conference,
“Manitoba Waste Reduction ‘94” was held in Winkler in April 1994
by the Pembina Valley Recycling Network (PVRN) and the Recycling
Council of Manitoba (RCM). Representatives from recycling organizations,
municipalities, industry and government agencies were able to
meet one another. The PVRN was able to show off its program, as
it was an early regional model of recycling.
In April 1996, MARR and RCM co-hosted a conference in Portage
la Prairie entitled “The 50% Solution: A Manitoba Conference and
Trade Show.” This conference firmly established MARR as an important
player in the Manitoba scene. Guest speakers included the Honourable
Glen Cummings, Minister of Environment for Manitoba.
In June 1998, another conference co-sponsored by MARR and RCM
was held in Winnipeg, called “Breaking the Barriers: Waste Reduction
Into the Millennium.” Since the previous conference in 1996, RCM
had transformed itself from the Recycling Council of Manitoba
to become Resource Conservation Manitoba. The name change reflected
the fact that it was no longer physically doing recycling programs
and had moved beyond recycling and waste reduction to encompass
a broader approach to ecological sustainability.
In April 2000, MARR and RCM co-hosted the conference “The Ecology
of Waste Reduction: Stewardship and Sustainability.” The conference,
again held in Winnipeg, reflected RCM’s expanded mandate and featured
the widest range of topics yet. Noted the Conference Co-chairs:
”Now that the year 2000 has arrived and that the 50% waste reduction
goal has lost some of its allure, we reasoned that other environmental
and process issues warranted exploring and were certainly encroaching
on the horizon.” The conference included discussions of not only
MPSC’s proposed new business plan, but also ethical perspectives
on consumerism and ecological implications of globalization.
The two-year pattern of conferences was changed when MARR and
RCM decided to partner with the Canadian Prairie Chapter of the
Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) to jointly sponsor
a conference in April 2003. That event, the “Solid Waste Management
and Reduction Conference: Turning Green to Gold,” was held in
Brandon. This conference reflected the increasing emphasis on
a wider understanding of integrated municipal waste management.
In 2006, MARR members are looking at being very much impacted
by the new provincial Green Manitoba Eco Solutions initiative
that introduced its first discussion papers on the new look of
Manitoba stewardship program in October 2005. As mentioned, MARR
hopes to co-host a conference in 2007-08 that will revolve around
industry changes and challenges that result from the stewardship
shift to Extended Producer Responsibility.
The rest of this important report is available to MARR members
only. To find out how your community/organization
can become a MARR member, please visit that section of our website
or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.