Polak says province won’t bend to MMBC holdouts

Farm and garden suppliers angry with Multi Material BC eye their own recycling program

Environment Minister Mary Polak says it's too late for a pause on the rollout of the Multi Material BC recycling system.

Several agricultural businesses are vowing to defy Multi Material BC and refuse to pay into B.C.’s new package recycling system.

Kelvin McCulloch, CEO of the Buckerfield’s chain of farm supply stores, said his firm and other mainly garden suppliers will try to develop their own stewardship program to collect and recycle their packaging in compliance with provincial government regulation.

He said he’s abandoned hope the government might freeze the MMBC system, set to take effect May 19, and added a court challenge is one option if setting up a separate program proves unworkable.

Several letters sent by firms including Eddi’s Wholesale Garden Supplies, Cinnabar Valley Farms and Cobs Breads have gone to government serving notice they won’t comply.

McCulloch maintains MMBC is an illegitimate, unaccountable “monopoly” that businesses have been “coerced” by the province to join because there’s no real alternative.

Higher fees than are charged by a similar package-and-paper recycling scheme in Ontario is a key complaint.

But Environment Minister Mary Polak said misinformation about the program is rampant in the business community and much of it is coming from McCulloch.

“He refuses to listen to the information provided him,” she said, adding Buckerfield’s is likely largely exempt from MMBC fees because most of its products go to farms, not consumers.

Likewise, she said, many other businesses wrongly believe their fees will be much higher than is the case, due to either low flat fees or exemptions for all but the largest generators of packaging.

The decision to make companies whose packaging enters the waste stream responsible for the costs of handling it was a national agreement with other environment ministers, she said.

Those who want to go their own way can still pursue an alternative stewardship system, Polak said, adding breweries are advancing their own system and talks are also underway with the newspaper industry.

Polak said MMBC can’t be subject to provincial audits – as McCulloch has demanded – because it is not an arm of government, but is regulated and accountable as a non-profit.

She said organizations representing dairy farms, landscaping and nursery firms, as well as the B.C. Agriculture Council, are now part of an MMBC advisory council.

As for demands for a freeze on the program, Polak said that’s not possible.

“We are way too far down the road to be pausing it,” she said.

Doing so would stop the rollout of curbside blue box pickup to smaller communities that haven’t had it before, throw into chaos collection arrangements in cities where MMBC is set to take over and block the flow of MMBC payments to most municipalities that will continue as contractors under the new system, she said.

“If suddenly you told the Capital Regional District they’re going to have to find $4.8 million, I don’t think anyone would find that very acceptable.”

Asked if businesses that don’t pay into MMBC will soon face provincially imposed fines, Polak said enforcement may vary according to how much waste is generated.

“Tim Horton’s is part of the program,” she said. “If they hadn’t signed on maybe there’s a more serious discussion about penalties than if you’re dealing with a medium-sized flower grower or something like that.”

Just Posted

B.C. declares state of emergency as wildfires rage

More than 3,300 firefighters are battling more than 500 fires

Wildfire update: Fires burning in Fraser Canyon, Highway 7 and Skagit Valley

Several fires in the region are under ‘modified response’ meaning no firefighters are attending

Flight Fest to take off in Chilliwack once again

After a year-long break, Flight Fest is returning to the Chilliwack airport

Semi in ditch on Highway 1 in Abbotsford

Westbound traffic backed up Wednesday morning

Update: Highway 1 reopened after single-vehicle rollover north of Yale

Single-vehicle crash with three occupants happened at Saddle Rock Tunnel at 10:15 a.m.

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

Thieves steal supplies, tools and juice boxes from B.C. summer camp

‘Take a moment to think about who you stole from,’ says Burns Bog Society’s Mark Robertson

5 to start your day

Crews try to raise tug that capsized in Fraser River, fantastical news burger at the PNE and more

Burnaby motorcyclist killed in Vancouver crash

An SUV and a motorcyclist collided early Wednesday morning

Women-owned businesses generate $68,000 less revenue than men’s: survey

When Dionne Laslo-Baker sought a bank loan to expand her burgeoning organic popsicle and freezies business in 2014, she was “shocked” by the feedback she received from one of the bankers.

Hedley frontman’s alleged sex offences case returns to court

Jacob Hoggard faces three sexual assault-related charges will return to a Toronto courtroom this morning.

Climate change likely to cause more sewage leaks, says environment minister

More than one hundred municipal wastewater systems did not report how much raw sewage overflowed from their pipes in 2017.

Priests molested 1,000 children in Pennsylvania, report says

The “real number” of abused children and abusive priests might be higher since some secret church records were lost and some victims never came forward.

Most Read