Business alliance to battle MMBC recycling fees

Groups urge province to pause plan for containers, paper

  • Mar. 19, 2014 3:00 p.m.

Groups urge province to pause plan for containers, paper

Jeff Nagel

Black Press

An alliance of business groups opposed to the new Multi Material BC recycling system are demanding the province halt the planned May 19 launch and go back to the drawing board.

MMBC, an industry stewardship group, is poised to take responsibility for curbside blue box collection – with more containers and material types collected than before – while charging businesses for the recycling of the packaging and paper they generate.

But it’s been in a bitter fight with small business groups that complain they are set to pay punishingly high fees, which will then be passed on to consumers.

The battle took a new turn Monday, when the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and eight other associations launched a campaign in B.C. newspapers and online at rethinkitbc.ca to amplify the pressure on Victoria.

CFIB provincial affairs director Mike Klassen predicted job losses and some business closures as a result of the MMBC regulations and fees.

“This is public policy run amok,” he said. “We are asking British Columbians to talk to the B.C. government to push the pause button on its reckless and red tape-laden program.”

B.C. Agriculture Council vice-chair Stan Vander Waal said farmers can’t readily stop packaging strawberries and blueberries in plastic clamshells, because retailers insist that’s what consumers want.

“We have to wear the cost,” he said, adding MMBC fees will cost his Chilliwack farm $60,000 to $100,000 a year. “It goes directly against growing agriculture.”

Canadian Newspaper Association chairman Peter Kvarnstrom, who is publisher of a paper in Sechelt, warned the the new system will be “catastrophic” to B.C. community and daily newspapers, resulting in job losses in an already challenged industry and reduced service to communities.

The opposition groups say they support the aim of the program – to make generators of packaging pay to recycle it – but they dispute the fees and say multinational consumer goods firms like Unilever and Walmart control MMBC and are manipulating it to their benefit, not that of local businesses.

Most of the fees for container waste are double or even quadruple what businesses in Ontario pay to a similar agency.

Newspapers say they face a $14-million-a-year bite out of their operations because of the 20 cents per kilogram they will pay on newsprint, compared to less than half a penny in Ontario.

They contend a high proportion of newsprint is already recycled in B.C. through blue boxes.

Kvarnstrom said newspapers are considering options to create their own newsprint collection system – a move that could also deprive MMBC of newsprint revenue and undermine the program’s viability.

Magazine industry reps also warned small B.C. magazines will pay not only for their own paper recycling, but will also effectively subsidize big U.S. magazines like Harper’s or Vogue that will be exempt from MMBC fees on magazines mailed into B.C.

Printers predict some orders will shift to presses in the U.S. or Alberta to skirt the fees, costing jobs in B.C.

MMBC managing director Allen Langdon said MMBC’s higher fees are because they fully finance the program and ensure service for multi-family apartments and rural depots, in contrast to Ontario’s more limited focus on single-family homes.

He said B.C.’s successful container deposit system also means there’s less recyclable material left here for container stewards to collect and sell, so fees have to be higher to cover the system costs.

Langdon said no business is forced to join MMBC, adding groups like the newspaper industry are free to develop their own system.

“If they think there’s a better way, I think it’s important they put it forward.”

Environment Minister Mary Polak said most businesses are exempt from the fees if they have under $1 million of retail sales, generate less than a tonne of material or operate out of a single retail outlet, while generators of one to five tonnes per year pay flat fees of $550 or $1,200.

She said property taxpayers will save money because MMBC will now pay for recycling collection that local municipalities previously paid.

“The City of Richmond will save $1.5 million a year, Nanaimo will save just over $900,000 a year and the list goes on,” Polak said. “This is about shifting the costs from the property taxpayer to the people who produce the packaging and printed paper.”

Just Posted

Work to begin on John Phillips Memorial Park loo

Sooke council gives final approval

West Shore RCMP arrest man in stolen vehicle, seize handgun

Vehicle was reported stolen from Duncan on July 18

The Trading Post in Langford is up for sale

For sale sign and retirement sign spotted Tuesday

Nanaimo man wanted Canada-wide after walking away from Victoria halfway house

Warrant issued for Jesse Goodale, convicted of aggravated assault

Premier John Horgan hints at daylight saving changes after record-breaking survey response

B.C.’s largest public consultation saw more than 220,000 residents respond to time change survey

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

Countdown starts to 2020 BC Summer Games

Two flags unveiled at Maple Ridge city hall.

Memorial bench painted by Vancouver woman to stay in park for now

Park board to look at options for artistic enhancements on commemorative benches

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Weather Network’s anti-meat video ‘doesn’t reflect true story’: cattle ranchers

At issue is the video’s suggestion that cutting back on meat consumption could help save the planet

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Wrestling legend finds his wedding dance groove in B.C.

Professional wrestler Chris Jericho posted on social media that he was in Penticton recently

Coroner investigating after body recovered from Okanagan Lake

Penticton fire department assisted the RCMP with the recovery of a body Saturday

Overdoses overwhelming in B.C. Interior

Part two: Who’s affected by the current opioid crisis

Most Read