Manitoba’s newspaper industry hasn’t paid its recycling fees since August 2017, in keeping with the province, racking up a bill of around $1 million.
Sarah Guillemard, minister for conservation and climate, said that two-and-a-half years later, newspapers around Manitoba are actually in talks with the province, municipalities and Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba (MMSM) to provide you with an agreement.
Guillemard says all parties are expected to return to an agreement by Feb. 19.
“The federal government sets the framework for what might be recycled throughout the province,” said Guillemard.
“The act we’re talking about specifically here pertains to newspapers and their responsibility to the product they’re putting out and their responsibility for recycling it. For a few years, the federal government has been subsidizing that cost, so we put the newspapers on notice,” she added.
“There’s been loads of time to provide you with a workable solution, and evidently once we’ve stopped the subsidies, that’s what really motivated the industry to have a look at solutions.”
“We’ll give the required time as much as Feb. 19, and I imagine we’re going to really have a correct long-term solution at the tip of that.”
The newspaper industry is proposing it pay back the recycling fees in the shape of promoting in-kind to municipalities like Winnipeg, Brandon and other communities.
The proposal, presented by the three dailies and 47 community newspapers represented by Recent Media Canada (NMC) in Manitoba, was influenced by similar programs in provinces like Ontario, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, and Quebec.
Promoting credits allocated to every newspaper could be based on the dollar amount per tonne of newsprint sold within the Manitoba market, and could be used to ‘promote stewardship programs and drive up recycling rates for all materials in all municipalities in Manitoba.’
In an announcement to 680 CJOB, MMSM — a non-profit industry-funded organization that operates waste diversion programs for designated packaging and printed paper — said it’s hoping for a positive resolution to the outstanding recycling bill.
“MMSM is supportive of an in-kind program so long as there are not any negative impacts, financial or otherwise, to our members, municipal partners or the residential recycling program in Manitoba,” the statement read.
“A program plan by newspaper stewards would create complexities for municipalities, MMSM and government. This could include a requirement for added studies, municipal reporting and administration.”
The publisher of Manitoba’s biggest newspaper supports the in-kind program and says papers in Manitoba have never considered paying money for recycling.
Bob Cox told 680 CJOB that other jurisdictions have a greater way of handling newspaper recycling costs.
“Really what we’ve proposed is similar system that’s utilized in every jurisdiction on this country where there are requirements for stewards to handle waste material, or to pay for waste material,” he said.
“That is the system that’s used, by which newspapers mainly compensate municipalities for handling material by giving in-kind promoting.”
Cox said the newspaper industry has been on the table, anxious for an answer over the past two-and-a-half years and has worked slowly toward an answer through consultations with the assorted provincial ministers who’ve handled the file over that point.
Not everyone seems to be so keen on the proposed plan, nevertheless.
Todd MacKay with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation told 680 CJOB he’s not a fan of the suggestion that newspapers pay back the cash with in-kind promoting.
“I get why (the newspaper industry paying a $1 million bill) could be a troublesome move, but then again, I can’t pay my property taxes with rhubarb I grow in my back yard,” he said.
“The remainder of us all must pay with money.”
Guillemard said recycling isn’t low-cost, however it’s a very important environmental investment.
“We’re fiscally responsible as a government, but this responsibility has all the time laid on the shoulders of newspapers — they’ve just been subsidized by the federal government, and what we’ve recognized is that the industry really does need to point out responsibility and take leadership by way of the products they’re producing and the fee on the environment.”