MLA Popham raises alarms about costly B.C. recycling monopoly

New Democrat MLA Lana Popham says a “dummy company” from Toronto is poised to start a near-monopoly on recycling in B.C.

A new recycling system under an organization called Multi-Materials B.C. is poised to begin operating in May, and Premier Christy Clark acknowledged recently that it has been a “bumpy road.”

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Popham told the legislature Monday it’s more than bumpy, it’s “impassable.”

“They are setting up a system that’s dangerously close to a monopoly. This will inevitably lead to a decrease in quality of services and increase in price.”

MMBC has signed contracts with municipalities that feature inadequate funding, business-killing penalties and a gag clause on reporting data, she said.

The Saanich South MLA said the new agency also represents a hidden tax, in the form of a uniform new cost to big business, which will be passed on to consumers, she said.

The newspaper industry estimates that MMBC will cost the industry $10 million a year, and Popham said its refusal to participate throws the viability of the project into question.

She said the control of recycling should never have been outsourced to a large corporate outfit from Ontario, and represents a “profound failure.”

Peter Kvarnstrom, chairman of the Canadian Newspaper Association, has said there is no greater threat to the fragile industry than the new recycling policy.

It will cause a wave of damage and job losses across newsrooms everywhere, and affect many other businesses, he said.

B.C. Liberal MLA Eric Foster, responding to Popham, said MMBC will reduce the amount of waste. The system “came forward as an opportunity to change people’s way of doing business and to put the onus on the original producers of the waste product or the recyclable product to reduce.”

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