The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has publicly criticized British Columbia’s (B.C.’s) recycling stewardship agency for upcoming changes it considers to be red tape, but provincial officials have already responded with ways to reduce the administrative burden by giving smaller businesses a break.
The CFIB announced on January 31, 2014 that the stewardship agency called Multi-Material British Columbia (MMBC) was the first annual recipient of its Paperweight Award, given to organizations that hurt businesses’ bottom-line with unnecessary red tape.
As of May 2014, businesses in B.C. will have to weigh, measure and report the volume of all their packaging to the non-profit MMBC.
“For their trouble, [businesses] will get a bill to pay for disposal,” said a joint statement from CFIB issued January 31, 2014.
But following the red tape criticism, the B.C. government made an announcement of its own, although it did not specifically mention the CFIB. The February 5, 2014 announcement stated that B.C. intends to introduce a new regulation to exempt small businesses from any reporting or recycling costs if they meet certain criteria.
“Our government listened to the concerns of small business, which is why we asked MMBC to work with the business community on a set of recycling rules that makes sense for small business while still achieving our shared environmental goals,” said Mary Polak, B.C. Minister of Environment. “I would like to thank the Chamber [of Commerce] for working closely with us and supporting our solution to this problem,” Polak added.
The criteria that would exempt smaller businesses from the MMBC are:
- under one million dollars in annual revenues
- under one tonne of packaging and printed paper supplied to B.C. residents
- operating as a single point of retail sale and not supplied by or operated as part of a franchise, chain or under a banner.
While the new extended producer responsibility process with the MMBC is designed to reduce environmental impact, CFIB says businesses are “more than a little nervous” about giving a blank cheque to an arm’s-length government agency with “little in the way of accountability”.
The CFIB said red tape impacts Canadian small businesses to the tune of $31 billion a year, and causes “thousands of smaller problems spread out over every jurisdiction,” said Laura Jones, executive VP at CFIB, in the joint statement.
“The Paperweight Award gives us a chance to highlight some of the more egregious examples, and frankly, to point some fingers,” Jones added.
Part of MMBC’s mandate is to increase B.C.’s packaging and printed paper recycling rate from 52 to 75 per cent.