The B.C. government is trying to fix something that isn't broken - and it's making a mess in the process.
Cities and towns in B.C. have successful recycling systems in place, but the province has thrown everything into confusion by mandating the creation of a monster called Multi-Material B.C.
MMBC was created after the government changed the provincial recycling regulations in 2011 so that responsibility for recycling packaging and printed paper moved from municipalities to the industries that produced the material. The theory is that the companies that profit from products that produce waste should have to pay the cost of recycling that material.
B.C. picked MMBC as the organization to manage the new program, beginning May 19. It will be funded by fees collected from companies that use packaging or create printed paper, instead of by municipalities.
The province has already responded to the horrified outcry from small businesses and exempted them from paying fees to MMBC if their revenues are below $1 million a year, if they produce less than a tonne of packaging each year or if they are single outlets. That excludes the majority of businesses but means the remaining ones - and their customers - will have to foot the bill for everyone's recycling.
Newspapers are among the industries most worried about the new system. Peter Kvarnstrom, chairman of the Canadian Newspaper Association, warned that the added costs are so significant to an industry that is already fragile that they will force layoffs in newsrooms across the province.
B.C.-based magazines will be penalized because they will have to pay for recycling, while international publications that are printed elsewhere and shipped to the province, pay nothing.
Everyone, including the critics of MMBC, can get behind the idea of reducing waste. But the province needs to listen to these very serious concerns.
- Guest editorial from the Victoria Times Colonist