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Recycling regime lets some small businesses off the hook

Waste reduction
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The operators of a controversial new provincial recycling system have introduced more changes to reduce the cost and paperwork for certain small businesses.

Six months ago, small business owners were fuming over onerous reporting requirements, vague timelines and unknown costs. The new system, run by an industry-led non-profit agency called Multi Material BC (MMBC), is meant to shift cost and responsibility for recycling to the businesses that produce packaging, but critics from the small business community complained that the system seemed to have been designed only with large companies, like grocery store chains, in mind.

“[The rules] were onerous, unrealistic and out of proportion to the nature of the problem,” said John Winter, president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, at a press conference Feb. 4.

In September, MMBC announced that small businesses that make less than $750,000 in revenue would be exempt from reporting. The organization has now extended the exemptions.

Businesses will not have to measure and report their packaging or pay recycling costs, if they meet the following criteria:

• Bring in under one million dollars in annual revenues

• Produce under one tonne of packaging and printed paper supplied to B.C. residents

• Operate as a single point of retail sale and are not supplied by or operated as part of franchise, a chain or under a banner.

Under the new rules, less than 3,000 out of 385,000 businesses in the province will have to participate in MMBC’s program.

Allen Langdon, managing director of MMBC, said he did not think the exemptions would affect his organization’s ability to run an effective recycling program.

The Sechelt Chamber of Commerce was applauding the provincial government for listening to B.C.’s Chamber network and amending the recycling regulation.

“This is a huge relief to our local business community,” said Christine Stefanik, president of the Sechelt Chamber. “This change exempts the majority of our local businesses, including all our mom and pop shops, from new costs and red tape.”

Stefanik noted that the Sechelt Chamber supports the principle of extended producer responsibility (EPR), which aligns with B.C. business values, but cautioned that EPR programs need to be implemented carefully to avoid unintended consequences.

“This exemption correctly balances environmental goals with business needs,” Stefanik said. “We applaud the B.C. government for responding to businesses’ concerns and limiting the scope of the program, appropriately, to B.C.’s largest PPP [packaging and printed paper] producers.”

Winter also commended Chambers throughout B.C. for helping drive the solution.

“Our local Chambers have worked heroically on this file, pushing hard for the on-the-ground needs of B.C. businesses,” Winter said. “Our partnership with local Chambers, such as the Sechelt Chamber, has been crucial to achieving this victory.”

The B.C. Chamber and its network of local Chambers will carefully monitor the implementation of this regulation to ensure any further issues are quickly identified.

— With files from Ian Jacques


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