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Cumberland, Courtenay on board with MMBC

The Village of Cumberland and City of Courtenay have signed up with a new recycling system to be implemented May 19 by Multi-Material BC.

The Town of Comox, on the other hand, has not signed a contract with the non-profit stewardship agency.

As requested by Record publisher Zena Williams, the Town has appealed to Premier Christy Clark to request postponement of MMBC's program until all levels of government and the business community can first discuss the issue.

The Town is waiting for its contract with Emterra to expire next year. At that time, Comox will tell MMBC to take over responsibility for recycling, Mayor Paul Ives said.

Courtenay's motivation for participating is cost-savings to taxpayers and the expansion of recycling services through new options for material collection. City CAO David Allen says the program exists because the Province amended a recycling regulation that requires businesses to assume responsibility for managing discarded packaging and printed paper that is supplied to residents.

In exchange for entering into an agreement, MMBC will provide a financial incentive to Courtenay. Concerns from industries about cost and management of the program would be better addressed by the Province than the City, Allen added.

A coalition of business groups, including the newspaper industry, have launched a campaign against MMBC (rethinkitbc.ca).

Black Press, which owns the Comox Valley Record, says consumers will have to absorb $110 million in extra fees and costs of products under the new system.

But concerns with MMBC go beyond proposed fees to recycle newsprint, says company president Randy Blair, noting businesses not exempt from recycling regulations will pay considerably more than what it costs to recycle similar materials in other jurisdictions.

"There is no justification for the exorbitant fees proposed by MMBC, who essentially represent the interest of multi-national consumer packaged goods companies and have absolutely no concern for the health of businesses in B.C.," Blair said.

The recycling regulation in its current form will result in job losses in Courtenay across many business sectors, he added.

"And that should be a concern to all of us."

MMBC managing director Allen Langdon said newspapers don't pay fees in other Canadian jurisdictions.

"Our members aren't prepared to subsidize the newspaper industry," he said. "In other jurisdictions, municipalities or the provincial government subsidizes the newspaper industry."

He said MMBC members are willing to pay their share of what they put in the marketplace, but are not willing to assume responsibility for the newspaper industry. For example, a number of members would pay for flyers in newspapers.

"Why would they then also have to pay for the newspaper itself?" Langdon said.

Black Press CEO Rick O'Connor suggests scrapping MMBC and returning control of recycling to municipalities. He denies Langdon's claim that newspapers were seeking a subsidy from MMBC.

The newspaper industry can develop its own recycling system. It is not required to join MMBC.

Since 2012, Langdon recalls the industry has said it might start its own program.

"Here we are 38 days (away from program launch) and they still haven't done anything," Langdon said. "At this point we have sufficient membership to move forward with the program. What the newspaper industry does regarding their obligations is, from my perspective, their issue, not mine."

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