News

Regional District of Nanaimo directors ok with MMBC

Contention and confusion is growing over the province's push to adjust B.C.'s recycling system.

In a close vote at Tuesday night's regular board meeting, RDN directors voted against a request put forward by The NEWS publisher Peter McCully asking for directors to support a delay in the implementation of the Multi Material British Columbia (MMBC) program slated to come down May 19.

"The system that MMBC is developing is very costly and will impact jobs and growth in the province," said McCully, who estimates the program will cost the newspaper industry alone $10 million per year. "The fundamental issue is that this is not good for B.C. residents."

According to MMBC managing director Alan Langdon, who spoke to directors at Tuesday's meeting, the new system will shift the responsibility to pay for recycling printed paper and packaging (PPP) from local government to industry — however, director Bill Veenhof argued the financial onus will inevitably fall into the pockets of the consumer.

Veenhof said he was "intensely uncomfortable" with the MMBC program.

"While much is made of the producers of PPP having to pay for the cost of recycling, at the end of the day it seems that cost will be downloaded to the consumer," said Veenhof, who represents Deep Bay, Qualicum Bay and Bowser. "We aren't saving consumers money we're costing them money."

MMBC's website explains the new environmental program will see companies who produce paper and packaging materials pay a fee to MMBC, a not-for-profit agency created to satisfy the requirements of provincial recycling regulations. Langdon said MMBC will create financial incentives for companies to reduce their use of printed paper and packaging.

"Now there is actually something at stake that wasn't there before," Langdon said. "But in terms of the consumer, I can't say how those companies will manage their costs in a competitive marketplace."

But Mike Klassen, director for Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, said he knows exactly how companies will manage those costs — by downloading them to the consumer.

“Without a doubt this program will cost small businesses and their consumers more money,” Klassen told The NEWS in a phone interview Wednesday. “These costs will become a hidden tax for consumers.”

Klassen called MMBC’s new system “some of the worst red tape that could ever be conceived” adding the program is only where it is at today due to the confusion surrounding the issue.

Langdon said MMBC is a voluntary agency governed by a board of directors — he confirmed board members include multinational firms such as Walmart, Unilever and Proctor and Gamble.

Veenhof maintained skepticism saying he “doesn’t see accountability in MMBC.”

To date, MMBC said it has reached agreements with more than 170 local governments and other collectors covering approximately 1.25 million British Columbian households.

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