The provincial government has three more months to try and sell Vancouver city councillors on a new recycling program that would require people to pay more for paper products, including newspapers.
The city is one of several Lower Mainland municipalities that have balked at signing a contract with Multi-Materials B.C. (MMBC), an industry stewardship group comprised of major retailers and producers meant to control the collection of paper and packaging by May 2014 and recycle at least 75 per cent of it.
The original Sept. 16 deadline has been extended after civic politicians attending the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention last week in Vancouver approved an emergency resolution calling for a 90-day delay.
Premier Christy Clark admitted the draft plan, which hinges on having producers and consumers pay the full cost for recycling paper and packaging materials, needs more work.
“I think the MMBC folks based in Toronto didn’t do a great job … informing and consulting with local communities in particular and small businesses on how it would be implemented,” she told reporters after delivering a convention speech on Friday. “I recognize this wasn’t done well and it’s been way too bumpy a ride. I want to make sure we are looking after small businesses and local governments in this province and we have some more work to do on this.”
Vancouver residents currently pay a yearly household tariff for blue-box service and the material collected is sold to recyclers. The proposed plan would transfer costs from taxpayers to industry. The new system will also require different stores and manufacturers to keep track of every kind of material and its weight so that they can charge accordingly.
Mike Klassen, B.C. director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, said the current plan would have dire consequences for small businesses. “Eighty per cent of B.C. small businesses are five employees or less, so when you are asking them to do the weighing, tracking, recording and remitting of fees that any kind of paper or printed packaging, you are asking, really, someone to hire a person to do that kind of work,” said Klassen. “It is a huge regulatory burden.”
The province is offering three choices — municipalities can operate their own curbside collection of packaging and printed paper as contractors for a financial reward, hand over the responsibility to the MMBC, or simply continue to run the existing blue box programs without any additional compensation. Critics argue the MMBC program isn’t compatible with the city’s Greenest City Action Plan because it aims to pick up as much recyclable material as possible rather than encouraging people to cut down on producing waste.
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