The B.C. government's controversial new recycling program kicks in on Monday, despite criticism from small business owners who could face hefty bills under the new rules.

Currently, municipalities have to pay to recycle the materials that are produced in B.C., but under the new program, called Multi Material BC (MMBC), some businesses will have to cover those costs themselves.

A non-profit organization funded by these businesses will then operate residential recycling programs in many areas across B.C., with a wider range of materials eligible for curbside recycling.

Clifford Jones is concerned the new costs will hit his business, Tri-V Pet Foods, which produces cat and dog food — and the steel alloy cans in which it's packaged — in Chilliwack B.C.

"It's pretty easy to lose sleep when you know a big bill of this size is coming up to hit you soon.  Trying to figure out where you're going to get the money from to pay for this," said Jones.

Jones ships his pet food all over BC and says the province will charge him 50 cents per kilogram of steel alloy can he produces.

Pet food cans

Clifford Jones says the province will charge him 50 cents per kilogram of steel alloy can he produces. (CBC)

"In my particular case it would be $10,000 per month that we can ill afford to pay. We just have a small company with 12 employees."

Jones says he thinks as many as 3,000 small businesses like his are in similar situations and some of those are appealing to the B.C. government to help keep costs down.

Shifting the cost away from taxpayers

So far, the province is refusing to budge and B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak says the new program will help save municipalities money and increase what you can recycle. 

"Everybody struggles with packaging now and again, has unwanted paper they have to deal with, and instead of taxpayers having to deal with it, the users of the packaging and the paper should have to pay for it," she said.

Polak says the entire program will cost around $100 million across the province, 80 per cent of which will be covered by the biggest 150 companies in B.C.

In Jones' case,  Polak says he may have been misinformed as to his obligations.

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Pola

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak says the new program will help save municipalities money. (CBC)

"Part of the challenge is trying to get accurate information out to those companies," she said. "We're going to follow up with this company. We've heard of their concern. But in cases like this very often it's a miscalculation."

Jones says he's all for recycling, but calls the new program confusing and expensive.

"It's stressful for the employees; it's stressful for everyone involved in this, not knowing what's going to be happening."

Despite the added expense, Jones says he will sign up for the new program as required on Monday, but fears he and other businesses will be forced to pass the cost along to consumers.


What materials can I recycle under MMBC?

Paper

  • Newspapers, inserts and flyers
  • Magazines
  • Catalogues
  • Phone books; directories
  • Paper gift wrap and greeting cards
  • Writing/home office paper and correspondence

Cardboard

  • Cardboard boxes e.g. pizza or dessert boxes
  • Egg cartons
  • Paper bags
  • Paper pet food bags
  • Paper cups e.g. coffee cups
  • Milk cartons
  • NO JUICE CARTONS

Containers

  • Steel, aluminum or spiral cans e.g. soup tins or baby formula
  • Aerosol cans
  • Aluminum foil and containers
  • Plastic jugs, bottles or jars e.g. for milk, detergent or peanut butter
  • Plastic clamshell or tray packaging e.g. for fruit, pastries, chicken
  • Plastic tubs, pails or cups e.g. for margarine, ice-cream or take-out beverages
  • Microwaveable plates, cups
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • NO JUICE CONTAINERS
  • NO PROPANE TANKS

For more details, visit the Multi-Material BC residents' website: http://recyclinginbc.ca/​.