MMBC needs independent oversight: business leaders

Business leaders from across B.C. are urging the province to establish a watchdog organization to keep an eye on stewardship programs such as the contentious Multi-Material BC (MMBC) industry group.

Delegates from about 200 chambers of commerce in the province took aim at programs like MMBC - responsible for transferring responsibility for packaging waste from consumers to the companies that produce the materials - at the B.C. Chamber of Commerce's (BCCC) May 23 AGM in Richmond.

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Members passed a resolution calling on the government to create an oversight body that falls under a regulatory framework similar to that of the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC). The BCUC is a quasi-judicial board has the power to make legally binding rulings and is responsible for ensuring ratepayers receive reliable service at fair rates.

MMBC is an industry-led organization charged with managing the recycling and disposal of packaging produced by companies on the West Coast.

BCCC president John Winter said business leaders are concerned about putting a program like MMBC into the hands of a single provider - an effective monopoly - without any sort of mechanism to report on issues such as costs or effectiveness.

"The wolf is still in charge of the henhouse," he said.

"We don't have any problem with business paying its costs - we want to make sure those costs are fair costs, legitimate costs."

Small businesses have criticized MMBC, which launched May 19, for being unclear about fees and timelines associated with the program that would require them to tally how much packaging they were producing and then covering the associated costs.

The government officially amended MMBC last week so that most small businesses are exempt from onerous reporting requirements.

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