Local businesses laud streamlined recycling regulations
The Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce is welcoming the province's efforts to reduce costs and red tape for small businesses in a new extended producer responsibility program for consumer packaging slated to take effect in May.
New regulations announced last week exempt some categories of small businesses from the obligation of assuming responsibility for the recycling of their packaging and printed paper under the BC Recycling Regulation.
Businesses that are exempt include those that have less than $1 million in revenue, produce less than a tonne of consumer packaging and are not part of a franchise but operate as a single point of retail sale.
"From a red-tape perspective, we applaud that it's only affecting the big players," said Bryan Hyndman, chair of the chamber's policy committee.
The Tri-Cities Chamber was part of a lobbying effort by the BC Chamber of Commerce to have small businesses exempted from having to sign on as a steward with Multi-Material B.C., which would have required them to file a recycling plan and pay fees for paper and other consumer packaging that ends up in the residential waste stream.
Some of the types of packaging for which industry stewards are responsible include flyers, bank statements, cardboard, cold drink cups and anything that is used to protect, contain or transport a substance and ends up in consumers' hands (more information is available at www.multimaterialbc.ca).
Hyndman said small business owners lack the resources to be able to handle the extra paperwork and operate on such small margins that fees would be an onerous cost. He also speculated that some larger businesses may also balk at the measures if they can't find a way to absorb the costs.
Ken Doty, owner of Sandpiper Signs and Decals in Coquitlam, is one of the businesses that will benefit from from the new regulation announced by Minister for Small Business Naomi Yamamoto. Sandpiper would have had to comply under the original regulations that stipulated a $750,000 revenue cap and said he appreciated the chamber's efforts on his behalf.
The new regulations mean only about 3,000 of B.C.'s 385,000 businesses will have to sign on as stewards with MMBC. But low-volume producers that generate between one and five tonnes of consumer packaging will have a streamlined process and flat fees. They will still need to register with the MMBC WeRecycle portal and sign a membership agreement by May 31.
Allen Langdon, managing director for MMBC, said much work still needs to be done to get the program in place by May.
MMBC expects to generate about $85 million in revenues from packaging producers, including newspaper companies and grocery stores, which will be used to pay municipalities to collect recyclables or to hire contractors to pick them up.
According to Langdon, B.C. is the fourth province in Canada to establish a program where producers are made responsible for packaging.
"I think there is widespread support," he said. "This is a way to put a price on it and have producers manage those costs."
Although there may be some initial work on the part of producers to comply with regulations (fees are assessed by weight), Landon said the task will become easier in future years.
Meanwhile, MMBC is working to get a contractor to deal with Coquitlam's recycling but has chosen to work with Encorp to handle glass and other recyclables that won't be collected at curbside. Langdon said consumers will be able to drop off more varieties of recycling such as soft plastics, polystyrene and aluminum foil at the Return-It depots on Barnet Highway and Lougheed Highway.
More information is available at www.multimaterialbc.ca