Province’s changes to recycling program alarm newspaper industry

Upcoming recycling regulation changes have caused alarm for B.C. companies that rely on producing large quantities of paper – especially newspapers.

On May 19 the province will require larger companies to pay for the recycling of their printing and packaging of paper products, taking the waste management responsibility away from municipalities.

In the Alberni Valley this means companies will soon be charged a fee for the handling of the paper produced. The recycling charges would then go to the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District, which handles the area’s recycling. “They’ll be charged fees based on the types of materi als they use as well as how much material they put into the marketplace,” said Allen Langdon, director of Multi-Material British Columbia, the organization responsible for managing the new program. “The more packaging you would put into the marketplace, the more fees you would pay.”

The upcoming regulations have spawned fears from several businesses across the province that these new costs will affect the sustainability of operations. On Monday a group of B.C. business organizations launched a massive awareness campaign against the recycling regulations, placing ads in 128 newspapers across the province. With the social media hashtag #RethinkItBC, the campaign is believed to be one of the largest public awareness campaigns ever mounted in BC’s history.

“This legislation has huge impact on papers and anyone employed in the business of recycling … newspapers, the print industry, small business – it’s going to have an impact on all of them,” said Westerly News publisher Hugh Nicholson. With the change, the provincial government is turning over control of recycling in B.C. to a consortium based in Toronto, he said, adding that MMBC is governed by a board made up of international business interests with Ontario/Quebec representatives from: Unilever Canada, Metro Inc., Walmart, Tim Hortons Inc., Loblaw Companies Limited, Coca Cola Refreshments Canada and Procter & Gamble.

Nicholeson, who is also president of the British Columbia.-Yukon Community Newspapers Association, said the confusing

Ministry of Environment-endorsed program creates a monopoly to control much of BC’s currently thriving and competitive waste recycling industry.

“We’re at a loss as to why the government would want to mess with that system,” he said.

Mike Klassen, director of provincial affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the new red tape will kill jobs and cause many businesses to fail.

Peter Kvarnstrom, chairman of the Canadian Newspaper Association, said that newspapers in B.C. already have an 85 per cent recycling rate, making the initiative an unnecessary burden that will “dump a massive cost onto the back of a fragile industry still challenged to stay standing.”

Businesses with more than $1 million in revenue or those who produce upwards of one tonne of paper annually will be directly affected. The province said this affects less than 1% of 385,000 companies operating in B.C. Marilynn Knoch, executive director of the BC Printing and Imaging Association, said her organization’s on board with maximizing recycling of paper and packaging to reduce materials going into the waste stream. “BC businesses are already working to make our province get even more clean and green, so let’s start talking to people from BC about how to achieve this. First we must delay the May 19 start of the legislation, and then get businesses back to the table to share their ideas with the government,” Knoch said.

With files from Jackie Carmichael.