NDP agriculture critic Lana Popham is calling for an audit of Multi-Material BC.

NDP demands audit of Multi-Material BC

Opposition says MMBC undermines existing recyclers, depots, wants review by B.C.'s Auditor General

The NDP Opposition called Wednesday for an independent review of the reformed blue box recycling system now overseen by Multi-Material BC, arguing the stewardship agency is unaccountable and creating chaos among existing recyclers.

Deputy environment critic Gary Holman pointed to Syntal Products, a Saanich plastics recycling plant that shut down in September after MMBC partnered with other processors and left the company with insufficient feedstock.

Holman said non-profit recycling depots on the Gulf Islands are now facing closure and 25 layoffs because the funding they get from MMBC covers less than a third of the real operating costs.

MMBC launched in May to meet the provincial mandate that firms that distribute packaging waste and paper pay the costs of recycling it.

The industry stewardship group is now directly or indirectly in charge of curbside recycling in most of B.C. but continues to face strong local criticism.

Holman and NDP agriculture critic Lana Popham are calling for a review of MMBC by B.C.’s Auditor General.

“The B.C. government has botched its overhaul of the recycling sector,” said Popham, who has started an online petition.

She said agricultural operations and other businesses are being saddled with excessive fees to handle their packaging, while there’s insufficient accountability over the $100 million a year MMBC will take from businesses.

Environment Minister Mary Polak said the system is a significant shift because home owners now no longer pay the costs of recycling paper and packaging through their property taxes.

“It is a new program,” Polak told the Legislature. “It will take time to make sure that things are functioning adequately for everyone across the province. But make no mistake. We believe that the people who produce the packaging should pay to get rid of it.”