Lana Popham is the NDP's small business critic.

Liberals, NDP spar over MMBC recycling rollout

Minister challenges New Democrats to take position, says program shifts costs to packaging, paper generators

B.C.’s small business minister defended the province’s shift to a new recycling system Wednesday after a continuing attack in the Legislature by the Official Opposition.

Naomi Yamamoto said the Multi Material BC program transfers recycling costs from taxpayers to the producers who generate packaging and printed paper and challenged New Democrats to state whether or not they oppose that principle.

“How many of us have come home after purchasing a relatively small item, struggled to unpackage the item and then found yourself with a mountain of waste material that we have no control over?” Yamamoto responded in Question Period. “This program actually provides an incentive to producers to reduce their packaging.”

The new system led by Multi Material BC is being resisted as too costly by various business sectors, including the newspaper industry and Black Press, the company that owns this newspaper.

Yamamoto said the province asked MMBC to work with the small business community and the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, adding that led to a series of exemptions that absolve 99 per cent of small businesses of requirements to report and pay recycling fees under the new program.

NDP small business critic Lana Popham cited severe business impacts and demanded to know if the province will halt the scheduled May 19 rollout pending better consultation with businesses, municipalities and environmental organizations.

“The premier is chucking B.C.’s recycling system into a giant dumpster by completely botching the implementation,” Popham said. “British Columbia deserves to get our recycling right.”

Popham earlier in the week denounced MMBC as a “red tape monster” controlled by Ontario-based corporations and multinational firms that aren’t sufficiently accountable to B.C. stakeholders.

Newspaper industry representatives have warned newspaper closures and large-scale job losses are likely if the MMBC rollout continues unchanged.

 

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