Multi Material BC opponents prepare for court fight

Businesses aim to thwart new recycling agency with legal action if province won't freeze rollout

Kelvin McCulloch

Kelvin McCulloch

Business opponents of Multi Material BC are planning a court challenge to reverse the takeover of B.C.’s curbside recycling system by the stewardship agency.

They continue to urge the provincial government to freeze the new MMBC system before it takes effect May 19, but are also laying the groundwork for a legal battle.

Kelvin McCulloch, CEO of the Buckerfield’s chain of farm supply stores, is urging other businesses to sign and submit their MMBC contract but then give notice to the government that they won’t pay fees or otherwise cooperate with the new system to collect packaging and printed paper.

McCulloch intends to gather opt-out letters from numerous businesses across B.C. and deliver them to the province.

If the MMBC rollout continues, he said, they will argue in court  that the MMBC contracts were invalid and they were coerced to join the government-created recycling monopoly.

“We’re fairly confident at this point it will be struck down,” McCulloch said. “No company in their right mind would sign that contract of their own free will.”

The province contends MMBC is voluntary and various industries could instead form their own separate waste-collecting organization.

That option is not practical or reasonable, McCulloch said.

“The suggestion that we are able to launch or own stewardship program independent of MMBC is a sham.”

The MMBC program aims to transfer recycling costs from municipal taxpayers to the producers who generate packaging and printed paper, while collecting more containers and material types than before.

But many businesses argue they’re unfairly compelled to pay far higher fees than a similar system run in Ontario.

Critics say MMBC’s three-member interim board is controlled by executives with multinational firms like Unilever and Proctor and Gamble who have manipulated the launch of the new program to their benefit rather than the interests of most B.C. businesses.

Questioned by the NDP last week, Environment Minister Mary Polak said she expects a more representative 15-member permanent board to be named soon after MMBC’s launch.

Polak said it’s logical the biggest industries that pay the most into MMBC get a large role.

A new advisory council was also recently unveiled by MMBC with reps from several B.C. business groups, but critics say it has no real power.

Pausing the program and the payment of fees by member businesses would cut off the money MMBC will send to most local cities that agreed to continue curbside pickup.

“Any delay in implementation for those communities would mean a loss of that savings,” Polak said, adding many municipalities have already budgeted to receive promised MMBC payments.

She said examples of those amounts are $1.5 million a year coming to Richmond and $917,000 to Nanaimo.

Mike Klassen, B.C. director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said he’s not aware of any cities reducing their property taxes as a result of the expected MMBC savings.

“That’s one of the things that’s been most misleading – the idea that this was going to save money for the general taxpayer,” he said.

Klassen argues consumers will pay twice – their local taxes won’t go down but they’ll also pay higher retail prices as businesses pass along the MMBC charges.

He said most mayors and councils are being cautious and aren’t spending MMBC savings until they actually arrive – meaning there’s still opportunity to freeze the rollout.

“That suggests to me they’re also very wary of the program and have a fallback program in case things don’t work,” Klassen said.

“The world doesn’t all of a sudden turn upside down if we pause this program and take some time to reflect on how to do this well.”

Small businesses with single storefronts have been exempted by the province from MMBC’s requirements.

But Klassen said franchisees don’t qualify, leaving hundreds of small businesses like meat shops and Subway sandwich outlets facing hefty costs.

New Westminster picked for container plant

A new container recycling plant will be built in New Westminster to handle some of the packaging that will be collected under the new MMBC system.

Green By Nature, a consortium picked by MMBC to process and market recyclables, said the $15-million facility will be completed in early 2015, providing more efficient sorting of plastics.

MMBC managing director Allen Langdon said the state-of-the-art recycling facility will position B.C. as an industry leader.

It will bring 70 new jobs to New Westminster.

Just Posted

.
Fraser Health monitors long-term care vaccination rates amid local COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 transmission has largely been on the decline in Agassiz-Harrison

Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema, a member of the Canadian national women’s soccer squad.
Another scoreless draw for Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema and Canadian national women’s soccer squad

Canada played Brazil to a 0-0 tie days after doing the same in a friendly against the Czech Republic

FVRD surveyed public opinion on cannabis production and processing in the electoral areas. Odour and distance from residential areas were the top concerns. (Black Press file)
Cannabis production and processing rules being drafted by Fraser Valley Regional District

Data from public opinion survey will be used to guide cannabis-related land use

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Most Read