Sunday, March 30, 2014

Standing up for recycling in BC

Recycling at risk in BC
Recycling is an important value for many in Saanich South. It is a simple way we do our part to help the environment. Recycling businesses also provides jobs for dozens of people in this constituency. These reasons inspired me to investigate the overhaul that the BC government is in the final stages of implementing for this sector.

What I discovered is shocking. As background, the BC government has enabled the creation of a non-profit Society called Multi-Materials BC and is about to give it extraordinary power and monopoly-like control over the recycling sector in BC. Currently there is a competitive marketplace with many players such as municipalities, haulers, depots, handlers and processors.

The impact of the changes which MMBC is pushing through have set off alarm bells across the province.
Last week I rose in the Legislature and raised five key criticisms of MMBC:
  1. It transfers authority for residential recycling in BC to a dummy corporation that is run by a tiny number of big business interests in Ontario. 
  2. It will lead to BC residents being gouged on the cost of recycling. 
  3. It extracts profit from the recycling sector while transferring risk to municipalities and the smaller operators, especially hauling companies. 
  4. It undermines successful recycling initiatives already in place such as the Refundable Beverage Containers program. 
  5. And most fundamentally, it fails to address the environmental challenge that inspired the recycling movement in the first place.

My speech was picked up and reported on in every Black Press local paper across the province (link) Many other media also reported on it, including the Times Colonist (link).

The transcript of it is here (at the 10:30 mark), and you can watch it here:

My investigation was the first to uncover that this "non-profit" "BC" "Society", MMBC, is in fact controlled by just three directors, two of whom do not live in BC and are Vice-Presidents of large corporations (Unilever and Loblaws). The third Director is their employee.

I followed up with a tough question for the Premier in Question Period. (Coverage of that is here).

The TC ran a scathing editorial about MMBC yesterday that draws on a number of the arguments I raised and there has been other reports detailing similar and equally serious concerns with MMBC. Here is one from the CEO of Buckerfields.

The government has yet to respond meaningfully to these criticisms -- that is unacceptable. I will continue to work actively on this file.

Best, Lana