CEO raises valid concerns about MMBC recycling program

Bravo to Buckerfield’s.

Kelvin McCullough, CEO of Vancouver Island-based Buckerfield’s, which has eight stores in B.C., says the company has no intention of paying for the provincial government’s plans to have Ontario’s Multi Materials BC take over its blue box recycling program May 19.

It’s always heartwarming to see David stand up to Goliath. Buckerfield’s is one of many businesses who have decided to stand up against Premier Christy Clark’s heavyhanded move to dismantle a program that works, and works well.

Clark’s move would be in favour of MMBC, a move that could be accompanied by job losses and will result in increased recycling costs for all concerned.

Even the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, which has unfortunately chosen a path that seems to automatically guarantee rubberstamping government policy without first soliciting members who would be adversely affected, has acknowledged there are legitimate concerns with the MMBC deal.

The B.C. chamber needs to remember that it represents businesses in this province – the vast majority of which are small-to medium-sized enterprises. It is an organization created to look out for its members, and should never be a pom-pom waving policy cheerleader for the provincial government, whether it says it is "free enterprise" or not.

Understandably, Delta doesn’t want a part of this and has opted out from the start.

However, Surrey and White Rock city councils have signed on to the MMBC deal, with the right to opt out. This is causing plenty of concern for businesses – particularly the newspaper industry and companies that produce or distribute flyers.

The British Columbia Yukon Community Newspapers Association is strongly considering pulling out of the blue box program entirely and starting its own, which poses significant cost issues for the program.

As it sits, newspaper is the most valuable recyclable in the box at $120 a ton. That loss in revenue would have to be made up somewhere, and surprise – that would be residential taxpayers and businesses.

As BCYCNA president Hugh Nicholson says: "Without newspaper recycling, the blue box programs would collapse. This is a Trojan horse, not a gift horse."

As has been stated earlier, this shift to MMBC is part of a larger change in provincial regulations that would see the responsibility for managing the recycling of packaging and printed paper shift away from governments and taxpayers and onto industry and its consumers.

As part of this new "producer-pay" model, businesses selling packaged goods or supplying printed paper have to now be legally and financially responsible for the costs of recycling.

John Hinds, CEO of Newspapers Canada, is also steadfastly against the plan.

"The current system is good for the environment, and good for communities to make decisions about what and how they want to recycle," said Hinds. "And basically, this is transferring it to an international or national group of packagers. I’m not convinced that transferring it internationally is going to have any impact on packaging."

So we applaud Buckerfield’s for taking this stand and rising its voice above the chorus that is taking the provincial government to task for the projected change. Yes, it is going to be costly for business to implement, but it is taxpayers who will also be hard hit when it’s introduced.

The May 19 start date is just around the corner. Let’s see how finely tuned the government’s hearing is to the marketplace.

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