Some recycling agencies raking in millions in profits
Ross McLaughlin and Lisa Green, CTV Vancouver
Published Monday, February 15, 2016 2:35PM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 16, 2016 9:58AM PST
There are calls for more regulation of B.C.’s recycling stewards after several industry-run agencies reported millions in cash reserves. The agencies that run the programs are set up as non-profits and tasked with setting and collecting the fees, which by law we all have to pay.
The fees range from pennies to $40 depending on what is being recycled. for example, you pay a 12 cent recycling fee for a wine bottle, 15 cents for a screw-in fluorescent bulb, $2.25 for a desktop computer and as much as $40 for a lawn tractor.
The money is used to cover the cost of recycling but some of the same people who run the programs are sitting on huge cash reserves.
CTV News examined the annual reports of the agencies that run the recycling programs and found two that stood out. Encorp, the steward of beverage container recycling has $43 million in the bank and another steward, Multi-Material Packaging, has $32 million in excess revenue.
"It's pretty shocking to look at the tens of millions of dollars that are sitting in bank accounts," says Spencer Chandra Herbert, environment critic for the B.C. NDP.
He’s calling for more oversight of the industry.
The CEO of Encorp admits that his agency is holding a lot of surplus as a buffer in case of a downturn in the economy.
"At the end of 2014 there was $43 million in the bank on our assets, yes," Encorp’s Scott Fraser said, "We are at the high end right now which is why we have been dropping the fees consistently over the last three or four years."
The Container Recycling Institute recently reviewed Encorp and says it has some concerns.
"When it grows and grows to the tune of millions and millions of dollars every year, it's just money that's being socked in a fund for nothing," CRI president Susan V. Collins told CTV News from Culver City, California.
Multi-Material Packaging defended its $30 million in reserves too.
"Who's protecting the consumer? In my view, it doesn't look like the B.C. government is, " says Chandra Herbert.
The B.C. Minister of Environment declined to be interviewed.
The government sent this email statement: “This is a results-based program and the Ministry as a regulator is not involved in the business-to-business operations of stewardship programs.”
The stewardship programs submit audited financial statements but there are few details on actual expenditures. Publicly traded companies would have to disclose executive salaries as do government organizations but not the recycling stewardships. We asked Encorp about its executive salaries and it declined to provide details.