Letter: Environment Minister Polak’s recycling plan hurts small business

Dear Editor,

Last month, Environment Minister Mary Polak announced what seemed like good news: small businesses would be “exempted” from the province’s onerous new packaging and printed paper regulation coming into force this May.

Unfortunately, it looks like the real news for small business isn’t quite so good – many are not actually exempted, and some will not survive.

The new recycling policy fundamentally changes the current blue-box program. Instead of being run by local municipalities, the

B.C. government has given control over the blue-box program to an unelected body, called Multi Material B.C., governed by multinational corporations out of Toronto.

If this has you scratching your head and wondering what was wrong with the existing blue-box program, you are not alone.

Opposition to Polak’s plan is growing. Last week, a coalition of B.C-based businesses representing agriculture, newspapers, landscaping, manufacturing, retail, wholesale, food, and waste collection sectors held a press conference to announce a #RethinkItBC campaign to fight the new rules.

If small businesses really were “exempt” why would so many of them band together against this new policy?

Minister Polak did put in place some compliance thresholds around gross revenue, packaging volumes, and number of locations.

The problem with her approach is that the thresholds are too low, and in some cases don’t apply at all.

The bottom line is that too many small businesses are still being hurt by a policy that adds a lot of cost and bureaucracy for no environmental benefit.

For example, under the new rules, franchises are not exempt.

Several pizza franchisees have reported to us they will be paying between $200 and $400 a week in taxes to MMBC. Pizza joints don’t have fat margins, and paying for this might mean selling another 100 pizzas a week – or passing those costs on to customers.

Some small businesses are being bullied into compliance by big corporations. Several major grocery stores have sent letters to suppliers, saying they will only do business with firms that are MMBC compliant, regardless of whether or not they fall under Polak’s exemption.

One went as far as threatening to withhold partial payment as a fine for lack of MMBC compliance.

These same supermarkets will not accept any price increases associated with compliance – small business has to eat the cost.

In small towns, community newspapers and local recycling depots are at risk of going out of business, thanks to the new policy.

B.C’s newspaper industry is facing $14 million of additional taxes. They will be paying 4,762 per cent (that’s not a typo) more per kilogram of waste than the equivalent program in Ontario. How many job losses that translates into has yet to be seen.

That it is at odds with the government’s stated “strong economy, secure tomorrow” agenda is crystal clear.

The only good news in this mess is that it is never too late to reverse course on bad policy. Premier Clark has shown she has the courage to admit mistakes and change course where necessary.

It’s necessary now. The new recycling rules don’t work for small business or the communities they support.

Laura Jones, Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Just Posted

VIDEO: Child airlifted to hospital after crash in rural Langley

Jaws of life were used to cut off the roof of a car and free its occupants from a two-car accident.

LETTER: Medical care in Langley and beyond deplorable

The shortage of family doctors shouldn’t exist. Who’s really to blame?

LETTER: Langley has water in its chemical supply

A homeless man in Langley questions what’s being put into the public drinking water.

LETTER: Langley needs to find balance between construction and destruction

One letter writer calls for review of Murrayville development, saying trees need to be preserved.

Langley netminder makes ‘unbelievable’ saves in draw against Seattle

Trinity Western University women’s soccer team battled to a 0-0 draw to Seattle, while boys fell 2-0.

VIDEO: Mustang Roundup in Langley attracts car lovers from all over

A car show dedicated entirely to one model of Ford drew admirers and collectors to George Preston Recreation Centre.

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

B.C. swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Victoria MS athlete Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The project began more than 10 years ago after southern Alberta’s 2003 Lost Creek fire

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights are misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to march in Montreal’s Pride parade

Trudeau will end the day in his home riding of Papineau

Most Read