Letter: Responsibility for recycling being shifted

Dear Editor,

Three years ago, our government passed a regulation making all businesses who supply packaging and printed paper to B.C. consumers responsible for collecting and recycling their products.

This was done to shift recycling costs from B.C. taxpayers to industry, and to give producers the incentive to be more environmentally friendly by producing less packaging and waste.

An industry-led, non-profit stewardship agency, called Multi-Material British Columbia, took responsibility for this new recycling program, developing a plan which our government approved last April and is set to begin this May.

While I am pleased about increasing recycling and shifting responsibility from taxpayers to producers, I acknowledge the rollout and consultation surrounding this program could have been improved.

This is especially the case with the small business community, which came to our government with a number of concerns. We listened to these concerns and have helped address them through new regulations that will see the vast majority of small businesses exempt from the packaging and printed paper program.

This new small business policy has been in the works since September, when I first asked MMBC to re-engage with business stakeholders.

Over the past few months, government and MMBC worked with the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and a dozen other business groups representing interests from around B.C. to ensure recycling regulations reduced unnecessary red tape for small businesses.

For instance, a business will be exempt from the MMBC program if it meets any of the following criteria:

1) under $1 million in annual revenues;

2) under one tonne of packaging and printed paper supplied to B.C. consumers; or

3) operating as a single point of retail sale and not supplied by or operated as part of a franchise, chain, or under a banner.

Overall, the impact of the program on small B.C. business will be limited. Less than 3,000 businesses must register and report to MMBC – that’s less than one per cent of the total number of businesses in B.C.

And, the 150 largest businesses in B.C. will pay the bulk of the program’s costs.

We are providing certainty for businesses and reducing unnecessary red tape by ensuring clear thresholds for small business participation in the MMBC program are regulated.

And what does the MMBC recycling plan mean for British Columbians?

Starting on May 19, 2014, more than 1.25 million B.C. households will begin receiving service under the new program.

It means many families that did not have curbside recycling will now have it.

It also means British Columbians will now be able to recycle new, additional items at the curb, including milk cartons, plant pots, and aerosol cans.

Most importantly, we expect to see more products being recycled, less waste, and less cost to taxpayers.

Mary Polak, Langley MLA and Minister of Environment

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