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Price hikes expected with new recycling fees

By Jeff Nagel

New recycling costs imposed by Multi Material BC will ultimately hit consumers through hidden price hikes, critics say.

“The public is largely unaware of the money that will come out of their pocket and ultimately go back to manufacturers,” said Corinne Atwood, executive director of the B.C. Bottle and Recycling Depot Association.

Unlike existing deposit-refund systems in B.C. on cans or electronics — which are subject to audits and transparent reporting — Atwood said MMBC can do what it wishes with its revenue, without accountability.

“It’s a licence to print money,” she said.

Atwood has lobbied for years to expand the deposit system to include milk cartons and other containers, from hair spray canisters to detergent bottles.

She argues the refunds offered would ensure a high rate of recycling through depots, as with beverage cans now.

“If you put deposits on things initially the consumer would pay a bit more, but the people who bring it back will get their money back,” she said.

Instead, she said MMBC’s non-refundable fees on packaging generators will inflate prices with no recourse.

“With a hidden fee you don’t know what it is and there’s no opportunity to get that back — then you’re genuinely taking money out of families’ pockets.”

Atwood said she believes the government likes the new system because if MMBC fees drive retail prices higher, the province will collect more sales tax.

Existing bottle depots may be threatened because MMBC will also collect refundable beverage containers, she said, adding school teams and community groups that depend on bottle drives to raise money may also lose out if there’s less to collect.

Other recyclers say they’re also losing out under MMBC’s system.

The agency recently announced a consortium of waste firms that will handle the processing of containers that are collected.

Urban Impact Recycling was one of the bidders that wasn’t selected and CEO Nicole Stefenelli said her firm will now have to restructure and potentially shed jobs as a result.

 

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