Local business Syntal Products has closed its doors only months after the introduction of the MMBC recycling program.
The 16-year-old business located on Keating X Road accepted thousands of tons of used residential plastic from around the CRD and used an environmentally-friendly process to convert the scrap plastics into all-plastic lumber.
“Early in July we began informing people we would be closing and told them to stop bringing their plastics to us,” explained the company’s owner, Brian Burchill.
“As of Aug. 15 the last of the employees were laid of and we had closed our doors for good.”
The closure, Burchill explained, was due to the fact that the MMBC program would divert about 60 per cent of the plastics coming into Syntal to other recycling companies.
MMBC is a residential recycling program that came into effect this spring through regulatory changes at the Ministry of Environment. Under its Stewardship Plan, MMBC is expected to ensure approximately 75 per cent of residential recyclables in B.C. are recycled within three years. The cost of this service has been shifted from municipalities onto business, although critics like the Canadian Federation of Business argue this is an indirect tax on business and that the costs will be passed on to consumers.
“Because about 60 per cent of the material I normally would have brought in was gone, there was no way I could find enough of the right types of plastics to make up the difference,” said Burchill of the change.
“The company was no longer viable and I sold our assets to a recycling operation in Winnipeg,” he said.
Burchill said when he first heard of the MMBC program he was optimistic.
“A lot of it sounded like it was based on extended producer responsibility and I thought ‘great, if the manufacturer has to step up and deal with the end of life of these products, they’ll build them out of better plastics.’ But as time went on, I started getting different impressions of what was coming. After lots of research and inquiry, I finally managed to realize our company was a processor of scrap plastics and the MMBC program catered to collectors. My hands were tied.”
Burchill, who met with Saanich South MLA Lana Popham last week to discuss the closure of his business, calls the MMBC program a legislated monopoly.
“The B.C. Liberals are killing small businesses in the recycling sector by gifting a monopoly over residential recycling to a handful of mega-corporations,” said Popham.
“MMBC is demanding that all materials collected are siphoned off to specific big businesses it selects. That is why smaller operations like Syntal are being shut down and why small businesses across the whole sector are very concerned about being pushed under.”
— With files from