New recycling deal will ‘gouge’ B.C., funnel dollars to Ontario

Cowichan Valley NDP MLA Bill Routley is calling the provincial government’s decision to hand control of blue-box recycling in B.C. over to Multi Material BC a "gong show."

"It’s hard to believe this government could make that deal with a large group of companies from Ontario," Routley said.

Critics say that the MMBC program – which takes effect May 19 – will transfer control of recycling in B.C. to unaccountable executives in Ontario while businesses and households pay higher costs.

"It’s going to gouge small businesses," Routley said. "We’ve already got a recycling system run by our municipalities that’s been working. This would be gouging B.C. to put money into companies in Ontario."

Routley said awarding of the contract wasn’t done properly, and it was never put to tender.

"This is a recycling monopoly," he said. "It hasn’t been done transparently to the public of B.C. "The Liberal government under Christy Clark has already "given the rivers and streams away" for run-of-river projects, Routley said, and the MMBC contract continues that pattern.

"These types of things are not in the interest of B.C., and this is another example of that."

The MMBC system will cost millions of dollars for pulp and paper producers like Crofton’s Catalyst mill alone, Routley added.

"They’re taking hundreds of millions of dollars from the pulp industry at a time when they can’t afford it," he said.

A coalition of business groups, including the newspaper industry, who say that they can’t afford to pay high fees imposed by the new system, launched a campaign against MMBC last month.

In the legislature, the battle against MMBC has been led by South Saanich NDP MLA and opposition small business critic Lana Popham.

"If government doesn’t take a step back, B.C.’s recycling system is going to end up in a giant dumpster," Popham said in a March 24 session. "The control of recycling should never have been outsourced to the large corporate interests based in Ontario and abroad. This is a profound failure. This program needs to be paused and the entire concept reconsidered."

MMBC is registered as a society, but Popham calls it a "dummy corporation" because two of its three directors are Torontobased senior executives with Loblaws and Unilever. The third is MMBC managing director Allan Langdon.

Popham said the province should force MMBC to give B.C. stakeholders majority control.