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

Team Canada loses 5-2 over the Czech Republic at World Junior A Challenge

Vees’ Tychonick drops in one of Team Canada West’s pair of goals

Accent Christmas holidays with delicious chocolates

By SCOTT TRUDEAU Special to the Western News If you’ve been to… Continue reading

Legion bell prank hits sour note

Anger erupts after Summerland Legion member removes bell from Peachland Legion

Vipers snap Vees’ unbeaten run at 13

Vernon hands Penticton first shutout loss of the season, 4-0 at home Saturday

AlleyCats ally with Penticton artist

Artist Terry Isaac gave up some space in his shop at Cherry Lane to help out the AlleyCats Alliance

AlleyCats ally with Penticton artist

Artist Terry Isaac gave up some space in his shop at Cherry Lane to help out the AlleyCats Alliance

Column: The Giller Prize

Fall is awards season for Canadian authors. The big three literary prizes… Continue reading

Vintage Car Club raises funds for hospital

The Vintage Car Club of Canada, South Okanagan, recently donated $5,000 raised… Continue reading

Site C decision coming Monday

Premier John Horgan to announce fate of dam project at B.C. legislature

California couple name daughter after Revelstoke

Revy Elle Atashroo was born on Nov. 27. Her name honours the town her parents loved exploring.

VIDEO: Vancouver Whitecaps acquire star striker Kei Kamara

Kamara has 103 goals and 39 assists in 298 appearances over 11 Major League Soccer seasons

Smartphone pedometers underestimate steps, but valuable health tool: study

UBC researchers found the iPhone underestimated steps by 21.5 per cent

VIDEO: ‘Last Jedi’ premiere kicks off with droids, Daisy Ridley

Latests Star Wars film premiered in style ahead of Dec. 15 theatre debut

Most Read