New recycling program ‘exceptionally flawed’

Mill Bay – An open letter to Premier Christy Clark and the B.C. government Recently, I’ve been following information about the new recycling regulation that will come into effect May 19, 2014. My understanding is the aim of the new program, under the direction of Multi Materials BC (MMBC), is to redirect the cost of collection, handling and marketing of recycled materials called packaging and printed paper (PPP) from local government and “residents” to “industry.”

On the face of it, this is admirable; however, it is hard to believe that the outcome will be that the cost will be shifted away from residents or that a cost reduction may occur as a result. Consider this: The MMBC’s own March 2012 study of province-wide recycling indicated that 96 per cent of all B.C. households already had some form of curbside recycling.

The average cost of annual recycling according to an editorial by the BC & Yukon Community Newspapers Association is just $37 per household per year. After months of unsuccessfully seeking information, the BC Printing & Imaging Association industry learned the rates to be charged to industry in B.C. are significantly higher than Alberta and Manitoba, provinces with similar programs; according to a press release issued by Marilynn Knoch, executive director, of the industry trade association.

In fact, the rates were up to 4,762 per cent higher and no less than 211 per cent higher depending on the product.

MMBC’s use of the term “industry” isn’t dedicated to large business, but encompasses all businesses and non-profits, that produce, use or distribute PPP to residents irrespective of the size of the business. Ironically, government will also be charged these fees; which appears to be opposite of the aim of removing costs to government.

In short, all business will have to pass these increased costs to the end consumer, aka residents.

This is the most obvious flaw in the objective of the new program. The costs will not be diverted from either government or the end consumer.

Interestingly, the MMBC study declined to estimate if the new program would end up costing the end consumer more or less than the current system.

Their study states: “Unlike other Canadian jurisdictions, the BC PPP program will be designed to achieve the objectives set out in the Recycling Regulation, rather than as a mechanism for municipal funding.”

I read that as stating the cost is not material to the objective, and that is not good governance.

There are a number of other reasons I am against this new program and urge the government to rethink its timing and implementation. I am completely in favor of a comprehensive recycling program and diversion from the typical waste stream. Unfortunately, this program – today – needs more thoughtful input than it appears to have had to date and the end objective of removing costs from residents is exceptionally flawed.

Peter Morris

Mill Bay