A group that you probably have never heard of — Multi-material British Columbia (MMBC) — made headlines at the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference this week.
What’s all the fuss about? The introduction of new recycling rules affecting packaging and paper that ends up in residential waste.
The idea behind the rules is to shift responsibility for paying for packaging disposal from the consumer to the producer.
This shift will be accomplished by MMBC, a group that has been given regulatory and fee-charging (taxing) power by the provincial government.
Municipalities are concerned about the impact on existing blue box programs. Small businesses are worried rules and fees designed by the big-business board of MMBC simply won’t work for them.
Is it appropriate, for example, to ask a small bakery to separate, weigh, record and report any packaging that might go to the consumer waste stream, including cupcake wrappers, cardboard boxes, cake stands, plastic wrap and bags? What about the corner store with packaging from toothpaste tubes to cereal boxes? Businesses of all sizes have been asked to sign a contract with MMBC to pay fees that MMBC is unable to disclose right now.
Many business owners told us that when they received the MMBC letter threatening a $200,000 fine for noncompliance they thought it was a scam and threw it away.
The good news is the B.C. government is listening and understands small business concerns.
MMBC has been convinced to put in place a small-business consultation period until January. That buys some time for small businesses that were being asked to start complying with the new rules. As an aside, CFIB plans to continue providing feedback to the government and MMBC on the reaction of small business, so feel free to contact us if you are affected.
Laura Jones, vice-president, Canadian Federation of Independent Business