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Publishers: New BC recycling legislation could result $10 million loss for newspapers

BC's newspaper industry says it is facing a catastrophic threat as the province gets ready to launch a new environmental program that will shift the cost of recycling from municipal governments to companies that produce the recyclables.

Newspaper publishers say the legislation could result in a $10-million annual loss, force some community newspapers to close, and result in 300 to 500 job losses in the province.

"It's really scary," Rick O'Connor, president and CEO of Black Press, said of the legislation that went into effect on May 19. "It's draconian to the extreme and the government did this without any consultation with the industry."

But the province says the recycling program, which will be operated by the industry group, Multi-Material BC (MMBC), would charge newspaper 20 cents per kilogram in fees and puts the figure closer to $6 million, according to the Vancouver Sun. MMBC would also increase the recycling rate of packaging and printed paper to 75 per cent from 52 per cent.

John Hinds, president and CEO of Newspapers Canada, said unlike other producers of paper and packaging products, newspapers cannot pass the cost of the recycling onto the consumer.

"Try raising the cost of a subscription, and you know what will happen—we'll lose subscribers," Hinds told J-Source. "The only place where publishers can cut is editorial and that's something that journalism just doesn't need."

In other provinces, such as Ontario, newspapers offer municipalities' in-kind advertising promotion instead of passing the cost on to publishers.

Scott Wheatley, director of circulation at Canada Wide Media which publishes some 40 magazines, said the legislation unfairly affects some publishers. "What about U.S. magazines that are distributed in B.C.?" Wheatley said. "They're just freeloaders who won't pay the fees and we will have to pick up the tab."

Tamara Baluja is associate editor of J-Source, where this post first appeared.

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