3 Reasons Multi-Material BC is not under the purview of the Auditor General

A recent editorial published in several newspapers over the last few weeks argued that the B.C. Auditor General should have jurisdiction over the Multi-Material B.C. (MMBC) program, claiming that MMBC, for all intents and purposes, is a government organization in receipt of public money.

This argument doesn’t hold up.  Here are three reasons why MMBC does not fall under the authority of the BC Auditor General:

1.  MMBC was not created nor appointed by the BC government.

MMBC is not a government organization. It is a private, not-for-profit organization funded by member businesses to manage the recycling of the packaging and printed paper they supply to residents in BC.  MMBC is among more than 20 Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programsintroduced in BC over the past two decades. Through these programs, industry is made responsible for end-of-life management of items such as beverage containers, electronics, paint, used oil, tires and batteries. EPR is a way for businesses to manage the environmental impact of products during all stages of the product lifecycle, from selecting the materials used in production to collection and recycling when a product is no longer useful.

In the case of packaging and printed paper, there was an opportunity for new stewardship organizations to be formed; however, MMBC was the only group whose stewardship plan met the criteria and deadline set forth by the BC government.

Industry was given the opportunity to file their own plans to comply with the recycling regulation, but most chose to become members of MMBC to have us manage their extended producer recycling obligations.

The EPR approach has been working in other jurisdictions for several years. Businesses in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec all contribute through fees to the cost of managing the recycling of their packaging and printed paper.  This approach has helped increase diversion from landfill and often resulted in more materials being accepted for recycling. Past experience has clearly shown the EPR model works.

2.  MMBC is not funded by the BC government nor taxpayers.

We are a stewardship organization funded by membership fees.  Those fees are paid by businesses that have signed a contract with MMBC to manage their obligations under the BC Recycling Regulation.

3.  MMBC considers itself accountable to multiple stakeholders

While we are not publically funded and are not part of the government, we do have specific performance measures that are outlined in our stewardship plan approved by the Ministry of Environment. While we are predominantly accountable to our members, we view the Ministry of Environment as a key stakeholder in our success. In addition, we also consider BC residents, municipal governments, First Nations, and private companies as our stakeholders and integral in helping us to operate a successful program.  We are committed to running a cost-efficient and effective program, and in the interest of being transparent to all our interested stakeholders, we have made a commitment to publish audited financial statements every year.   Since 2014 is our first year of operating recycling services, the first audited statement will be published in 2015.

The Auditor General audits ministries, Crown corporations, and other government organizations such as universities, colleges, school districts, health authorities, and similar organizations that are controlled by or funded by the Provincial government.  MMBC is neither controlled by nor funded by the Provincial government, which is why we will hire our own third-party independent auditors to ensure we are held accountable to our members and key stakeholders.