BC Environment Minister cool towards MultiMaterial BC

Multi-Material British Columbia is an industry led and funded non-profit organization established with the encouragement of the BC Ministry of the Environment that assumed responsibility for managing residential packaging and printed paper in the Province in May 2014. The launch of the MMBC program was very controversial among municipalities and many have yet to join.

Normally Ministers express a high degree of enthusiasm for programs initiated by their governments but BC Environment Minister Mary Polak was less than enthusiastic about MMBC during her opening remarks to the Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Conference 2014 today. She told the conference that her Ministry is watching MMBC closely to see if the initiative will be a success.

Waste management, especially including recycling, composting and aerobic/anaerobic thermal systems continue to be very controversial in Canada. New legislation for Ontario’s packaging stewardship system is stalled with the government not wanting to raise a matter that has been very controversial. MMBC has partially copied some of the Ontario system, with modifications, and similar mistakes are being made. There is a risk that it will not succeed and that the BC Environment Ministry will be forced to re-engage with recycling and other municipal waste management issues. In the current era of 100% brandowner stewardship, increased government involvement will almost certainly increase the cost of packaging stewardship recycling costs for many brandowners.

In GallonDaily’s opinion key problems arise because:

  • industry is not taking sufficient account of broad political and social issues in its management of product stewardship and related recycling and waste management programs.
  • a huge amount of recycling and waste management misinformation is in circulation. Until the public becomes better informed, public pressure will push governments in environmentally and economically inappropriate policy directions. Industry needs to play a much stronger role in public education.
  • division of recycling and composting activity between governments and industry often means that municipalities and households bear the costs while industry reaps the profits. Recycling collection monopolies often make this situation worse. Systems need to be established so that those who bear the costs also make the profits.

This post comes to GallonDaily from our Editor direct from the floor of the Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Conference 2014.

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