Recovering from Non-Compliance

Buckerfield’s Struggle to Correct the Regulatory Framework Behind Blue Box Recycling in BC.

On May 1, 2014, Buckerfield’s Ltd. terminated its contract with MMBC, now RecycleBC. We have not been in compliance with the BC Recycling Regulation ever since.

After paying first-year fees to MMBC, Buckerfield’s terminated its contract and moved into the position of non-compliance. We announced our actions and reasons directly to the Provincial government in written correspondence that explained our position, immediately after we took the action.

We have remained in non-compliance ever since.

Renewed efforts to explain flaws in the regulatory framework

With the establishment of the new Provincial government on May 9, 2017, we renewed our efforts to explain the flaws in the regulatory framework behind Blue Box recycling in British Columbia. We made presentations to the new Minister of Agriculture and senior Environmental Ministry staff including the Ministerial Assistant to the Minister. At that time, we committed to prepare formal documentation of our position and make recommendations for how to proceed.

Buckerfield’s is about to release the documentation and recommendations described above. It will take the form of ‘a review and public policy discussion paper’ on the regulatory framework governing Blue Box recycling in British Columbia.

The report will include our formal application for approval of a Buckerfield’s ‘Extended Producer Responsibility Plan’ under the regulation, so that we can remedy our non-compliance situation immediately. Our proposal will include a proposal to pay our fair share of Blue Box recycling costs for the past three years, consistent with the concept of ‘Extended Producer Responsibility.’

Also, we will propose to continue to pay our fair share of Blue Box recycling costs going forward. The proposal will bear some similarity to the recently approved Extended Producer Responsibility Plan of News Media Corporation, the association representing the Province’s newspapers.

Buckerfield’s terminated the MMBC contract publicly. We did not agree with the MMBC contract at a commercial level but much more importantly, we did not agree with the regulatory framework that the former Liberal Government put in place on May 19, 2014, a framework which effectively forces companies to enter into contracts with MMBC whether they want to or not.

In formal correspondence to the government of the day, we expressed the principle that ‘no business should be forced by government to sign any contract with anyone, ever.’ That is not the role of government.

And the government replied in the affirmative, saying in formal written correspondence ‘…no business was or is forced to sign the MMBC contract…’.

That was good news because we just terminated ours. Apparently, the government wasn’t going to force us to sign it again. And they never did. The only remaining problem is that we are not in compliance with BC Recycle Regulation and there really isn’t any way to get in compliance without signing a contract that we object to. We won’t do that. And we don’t take our situation lightly.

From May 1, 2014 until now, Buckerfield’s has not been in compliance and Buckerfield’s has never figured out how to get into compliance without signing the MMBC contract.

Our conclusion was that signing the MMBC contract was the only way to comply, even though the wording of the regulation sounded like it was totally possible and mandatory for all companies to have Extended Producer Responsibility plans of their own. We concluded that the criteria in the regulation were deliberately designed to be impossible so that no one could get approval for any Extended Producer Responsibility Plan and everyone would have to sign on with MMBC. Even alliances of companies working together could not meet the requirements and none ever did.

Of the approximately 1,200 businesses in British Columbia that were caught by the Packaging and Paper Products sections of the Recycling Regulation, we are confident to estimate that not one single company ever got government approval for its individual ‘Extended Producer Responsibility Plan.’ In our opinion, not one company ever figured out how to comply without signing the MMBC contract. MMBC’s Extended Producer Responsibility Plan was and is the only approved Extended Producer Responsibility Plan under the regulation (excluding the negotiated settlement with the Province’s newspapers).

Extended Producer Responsibility

Before proceeding, we emphasize that Buckerfield’s supports the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility as an ‘environmental protection strategy’ if it is regulated and administered properly.

Unfortunately, the current concept of Extended Producer Responsibility in the Packaging and Paper Products section of the BC regulation is not established or regulated properly, in our opinion. The regulation is not honest, in our opinion. It is fundamentally flawed and we will continue to present our position to the government and the public, as we have done since 2014, until it is corrected.

When we terminated our contract, we put ourselves in harm’s way. We have remained that way ever since because that is how strongly we feel about the principles of regulation and democratic rights in British Columbia which have been violated. It is now time to correct this situation.

Moving to Compliance – A Public Policy Discussion Paper

In order to move forward, Buckerfield’s will release an open ‘public policy review and discussion paper’ to the government.

The purpose of the discussion paper is to:

  • explain in detail once again why Buckerfield’s terminated its MMBC contract four years ago
  • explain what is wrong with the Blue Box regulatory framework in BC
  • seek regulatory reform to put the regulatory framework back on track.
  • seek approval for an Extended Producer Responsibility Plan that will establish Buckerfield’s compliance with the Packaging and Paper Products section of the BC Recycling Regulation.

Our company has been anticipating this for four years. We have saved the money that we estimate we would have to pay to cover our fair share of Blue Box recycling costs since we last paid fees to MMBC. We expect to pay those moneys as quickly as possible to get up to date under the regulation.

Ultimately, our review document is intended for presentation to the court of public opinion. Buckerfield’s cannot continue to defy the law. But Buckerfield’s will not go against principles which are so fundamental to the orderly and democratic administration of government. We must stand up for them rather than simply signing another contract and paying our way out.

The current government of the day, the coalition between the New Democratic Party and the Green Party, was not in power when Blue Box recycling was handed over to private interest in May of 2014. The current coalition did not bring the Packaging and Paper Product sections of the Regulation into force. They didn’t do it.

But they inherited it. Buckerfield’s will now extend a hand to the new government to help correct the flaws and remedy our compliance problem at the same time.

Our policy review and discussion paper will be issued this week.

Kelvin McCulloch

President and Chief Executive Officer

Buckerfield’s Ltd.

May 7, 2018

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