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

Canada Women’s Rugby 7s Team land at home after series triumph

Next stop at Langford offers Olympic qualification

PHOTOS: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says ‘I do’ on Earth Day

May and John Kidder got married Monday morning in Victoria

Two-sailing waits continue Victoria to Tsawwassen

Backlog continues despite extra sailings over Easter

Saanich soccer player survives bout with flesh eating disease

Harinder Sandhu picked up the disease after soccer game

Second earthquake in less than two hours strikes off Vancouver Island

The first earthquake happened at 1:27 p.m., the second at 2:44 p.m.

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand ‘a roof too’

Wealthy people have donated millions to effort to rebuild cathedral after devastating fire

United Way opens grants to help charities tackle social issues

Charities north of the Malahat can apply for grants $2,000 to $20,000

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Man’s body found in popular Cowichan Valley hiking area

Police say death not suspicious after discovery in Stoney Hill area overlooking Saltspring Island

Multiple sailing waits as BC Ferries deals with Easter Monday traffic

89 extra sailings had been added to the long weekend schedule

Vancouver Island-based company provides glass alternatives to plastic straws

Enviro Glass Straws now producing more than 60,000 straws each year

Most Read