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.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This Crescent Beach home, located at 12505 22 Ave., was subject of a police search warrant June 18. (Google image)
Civil Forfeiture Office alleges Crescent Beach home used to launder money

Court documents request the home, and $85,000 to be turned over to the government

Surrey firefighters battle a house fire near the 70A Avenue and 126A Street intersection early Sunday morning. According to a witness, it appears that the occupants were able to get out without injury. (Shane MacKichan photos)
PHOTOS: Fire causes extensive damage to Surrey home

Occupants able to escape without injury: witness

Preliminary results indicate a Surrey-Cloverdale win for the NDP’s Mike Starchuk. (File)
Mike Starchuk leading Marvin Hunt in Surrey Cloverdale

MAP: B.C. provincial election results for Surrey-Cloverdale

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

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

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Most Read