Kelvin McCulloch addresses delegates at the Zero Waste International Conference in Nanaimo last week. The CEO of Buckerfield’s highlighted issues with the province’s Multi-Material B.C.

Businesses pan recycling plan

NANAIMO – Delegates looked at waste issues during international conference in Harbour City.

The province’s new recycling regulations unfairly charges non-manufacturing companies in B.C., says the CEO of a home and garden retailer.

Kelvin McCulloch, chief executive officer of Buckerfield’s, addressed delegates during a panel session on recycling stewardship at the ninth annual Zero Waste International conference in Nanaimo last week.

McCulloch talked about the B.C. government’s decision to turn all recycling over to Multi-Material B.C., a not-for-profit agency that is part of the Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance, a non-profit organization created to standardize packaging and printed paper recycling programs nationally.

B.C.’s recycling regulations were updated in 2011 to shift responsibility for management of residential recycling from local governments and taxpayers to businesses that produce the materials. MMBC’s plan was approved by the Environment Ministry in April 2013.

MMBC collects fees from paper and packaging producers, based on how much they produce, then pays for municipal recycling programs from those proceeds. Industries impacted include the newspaper and printing industries, landscapers, bottle depots, waste management companies, manufacturing and export and farm industries.

The plan, McCulloch argues, does not take into account that retailers, such as Buckerfield’s, are wrongfully categorized as producers and polluters, even though they do no manufacturing or packaging and have no control over how products imported from China and elsewhere are manufactured or packaged, so the vast majority of non-manufacturing companies in B.C. are unfairly charged under the new regulations.

He also argues municipalities, taxpayers and business were never properly consulted or informed about the new recycling regulation or the MMBC contract and that businesses and municipalities have effectively been coerced into signing on to the new program or face fines and penalties in what McCulloch categorized as an incredible infringement of democracy.

“Today, a year later, there is one approved stewardship plan in the province of British Columbia and that’s in the hands of MMBC, a monopoly command and control structure over all of the recycling in the province,” McCulloch said. “There was never any intention for there to be other stewardship programs in this province. The B.C. recycling regulation was a sham and still is – one that forces every business that was caught by that regulation to sign a contract with MMBC.”

McCulloch said he has the backing of at least 50 corporate leaders in B.C. and is working to engineer an alternative recycling stewardship plan. He also suggested business across the province will respond to this issue at the next provincial election.

“The way we get rid of it is the next election,” McCulloch said. “That’s the way we get rid of it.”

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