Opinion

May 19 has come and gone, now Victoria must be accountable for MMBC mess

B.C. is entering into a blue box battle, with businesses speaking out against the government
B.C. is entering into a blue box battle, with businesses speaking out against the government's incoming MMBC program, which will transfer recycling costs to commercial outfits, not taxpayers.
— image credit: Black Press files

By Kelvin McCulloch

CEO Buckerfields

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On May 19, 2014, the Province's ill-advised Recycling Regulation for printed paper and packaging material took effect.

Up until then, we had the opportunity to talk hypothetically about the significant number of serious issues with this program. And we hoped that government would behave responsibly by delaying and rethinking the program to avoid the inevitable mess.

But May 19 came and went.

There was no delay, and one of the largest, most coercive and heavily flawed government programs in B.C. history took effect.

Two days later, the first fundamental truth about the MMBC program was confirmed to me. Two little pieces of paper arrived in my office, two supplier invoices showing a half a percent upcharge to cover MMBC's fees.

Fair enough, payment approved, retail prices adjusted accordingly. With that simple bit of standard management accounting, the cost of recycling printed paper and packaging under the new regulation was passed on to the consumer. It had to be.

We knew that was going to be the case and we told the government. Yes, "the train had already left the station" as we heard government say, but Extended Producer Responsibility was a false concept that wasn't really on the train for most of the cost.

There is no such thing as magic money. The money comes from the consumer. Everyone knows that. As time goes on, the other myths set up around the MMBC program will give way to reality and the hypothetical problems will be seen to be real.

For my part, this exercise in grass roots democracy has opened my eyes. No one can ever take good government or accountable government for granted.

Every once in a while it gets so bad you just have to get off the couch and do something about it. This was a hard realization, especially on May 19 when it became clear the program was still going ahead.

On the other hand, there has been a revelation, a silver lining in the cloud.

So many good people have come forward and spoken up, community-minded people who understand the importance of responsible and accountable government, good and honest business people who just want to do the right thing. This has been an inspiration. You are the protectors of our democracy. Bravo.

Going forward, it would seem that some of us have more work to do to cause the MMBC program to be re-engineered and put under proper public oversight.

That is exactly what we are going to do. And we are going to focus on solutions while we stand up for the people who are being mistreated, who are afraid to speak up, who think they are losing their job or their business because of this ill-advised program.

In final analysis, I believe the B.C. government stood to gain the most by delaying the implementation of the MMBC program.

Now, Victoria will have to be held accountable for every outcome that really occurs while we try to find a way out of the mess.

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