OPINION: New recycling rules are a costly tax
By Laura Jones
Environment Minister Mary Polak recently announced that many small businesses will be exempt from onerous new recycling rules set to come into effect this May.
While it’s always better to have fewer businesses affected by dumb rules, the minister’s announcement doesn’t change the fact that the new recycling plan delivers no demonstrated environmental benefit while increasing prices to consumers and costs to the many businesses of all sizes that will still be affected.
The government’s announcement is the policy equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig.
The province’s new approach to recycling should be abandoned. Here are 10 reasons why:
1) The new recycling rules add enormous costs to businesses and put a hidden tax on consumers for no environmental benefit over our existing (and very functional) blue-box programs. The new program is estimated to cost more than $100 million just to run. This does not include the huge cost of compliance.
2) The new recycling plan grants monopoly taxing and regulating power to an arms-length group (MultiMaterial B.C.) that has no real accountability to anyone.
3) B.C. recycling policy should be made in B.C. This recycling policy is generated by and for a small board of Toronto-based multinational corporations.
4) The new recycling rules are so complicated that there is massive confusion regarding who is affected and how to comply. Businesses are being advised to check with their regulatory affairs and finance departments. For most small business owners, this means checking with themselves.
5) The new rules never would have passed the government’s own regulatory reform checklist because the costs aren’t justified and the program is too complicated to be easily understood.
6) The new rules are not small-business friendly. Some small businesses are even being bullied by big businesses to comply. One supermarket told their small-business suppliers that they have to comply with the new rules and that the supermarket will not accept any price increases to make up for the additional compliance costs.
7) Community newspapers will have a very hard time absorbing the additional costs. Some papers have closed, and others are sure to follow if the program goes forward.
8) The economic viability of existing recycling depots in small towns across the province is threatened. These depots provide local jobs and many have been on the front lines of helping promote environmental objectives in their municipalities for over a decade.
9) The rules are ostensibly about reducing packaging but there are no direct incentives to reduce packaging in the program.
10) The public and small businesses were never properly consulted about abandoning the existing blue-box programs and replacing them with a program run by an unaccountable board of big businesses.
It’s a bit of a head-scratcher as to why a government that has championed the importance of a strong economy based on B.C. priorities would go forward with wasteful, destructive policy designed by Toronto big business. The only good news is that it’s not too late to reconsider.
• Laura Jones is executive vice -president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @CFIBideas.