We all agree recycling is important. This Recycle BC program might seem like a step in the right direction for the environment on the surface, but when you take a closer look, you realize that this regulation doesn’t actually do anything new for the environment. It is not effectively communicated, and is impossible to comply with for businesses like KMS Tools. We need regulations that are clear, fair, and effective.
KMS Tools has always been active in our communities and we want to make sure any top-down program actually makes sense for everyone. We recycle packaging and paper products at our branches and warehouses, pay for its removal, and we go above and beyond to prolong the lives of tools and other items.
The fundamental issue here is not about recycling. It is about a poorly written, implemented, and communicated top-down program making life hard for unique businesses like KMS Tools.
No one from Tri-Cities Dispatch contacted Stan prior to publishing the article to give him an opportunity to present his side. Most of the information in the article was not accurately stated. Stan did reach out to the journalist after the article was published and provided his information. The journalist did add in a small amount of the provided information in a “response” section below the published article, however they refuse to follow their own journalistic standards (https://tricitiesdispatch.com/code-of-ethics-journalistic-standards/) and write an article to correct the misinformation. There is an opportunity here for a serious journalist to expose the truth about the program.
Our history with the program
This all began in 2013, when KMS Tools received a letter from MMBC (now Recycle BC) threatening a $200,000 fine and/or shutting down the business if we did not comply with a new set of very ambiguous rules, and pay an unspecified, but presumably large amount in fees (exhibit A below). This was the first we had heard of the program. Stan has been questioning this program now for 10 years, contacting countless people from Recycle BC, the Ministry of Environment, Business Associations, MLAs, etc., to find out how he could possibly comply and how the impending program would better the environment. He has also questioned why others in the industry are not complying, as well as questioning why Recycle BC’s board members are predominantly not from BC (The Recycle BC board list of members) and why they, as a “non-profit”, show profits. Doing what is in the best interest of BC’s environment must be difficult from half a country away.
What is it we can’t comply with?
When the program was introduced 10 years ago, it took a month or two to determine what they were asking of us. What they have told us when we’ve inquired, is that in order to accomplish what they are requiring, we would have to find substantial additional warehouse space, take one of each of the 20,000+ items we carry, unpack it, weigh each type of packaging separately (some products come with as many as 15+ types of packaging materials, which we have little to no control over), design a software program to keep track of the weights that communicates with our point of sale software, and ask each customer where they will dispose of the packaging for each item in order to determine if packaging will end up in industrial or residential waste streams. This process would continue with each new item or package change going forward. We’d have to hire and train dozens of people to build and maintain our growing database on product packaging, and on our customers’ personal future waste decision making. We’d then have to deal with the thousands of open-box products, including machinery, welders, etc. We would also have to ask each customer where they will dispose of flyers or business cards when we hand them out at trade shows, or mail them to their businesses or homes, keep track of that information and submit fees accordingly.
A medium sized business simply cannot stay alive with these added burdens. Coming to this realization, not being able to pay the fines, and being threatened with imprisonment, Stan said “I’ll be going to jail.”
Who is the program for?
With only 0.25% of about 520,000 businesses in BC signed up for the additional regulations, none are similar to KMS Tools (Recycle BC Steward List). Tool retailers that have found a way to comply are huge national and international big box stores, and not our direct competitors such as Raider Hansen, BC Fasteners, Busy Bee, Summit, HNT, Grainger, Fastenal, Vallen, Adam’s Tarp and Tool, etc.
The Recycle BC program was designed for the food industry, not industrial suppliers of tools and equipment, selling to tradespeople and industries, like we do. This is why most of the stewards and board members are from the food industry, where the rules are easier to apply. (exhibit B below)
KMS Tools is in a different position than retailers because the packaging on our products, and the paper advertising we produce largely ends up in industrial zones, where waste and recycling are managed privately, and should not be charged fees as per the Recycle BC Program.
Many times Stan has offered to work with the ministry to come up with a viable solution, but they have shown no interest. He is still in dialogue with the ministry and would have no problem complying if or when a real practical solution can be found.
So how are the big box stores doing it?
The ministry will not tell us. There’s a good chance they’re just paying the fees, which they can absorb into their massive operating costs, because most of their packaging would go to the residential waste stream. We don’t know how their fees are calculated, and it’s possible they have negotiated a special agreement.
The previous government introduced this program and the current government railed against it for all the right reasons, yet they haven’t changed it.
“The slogan for MMBC should probably be ‘recycle once, but pay twice’,” as NDP small business critic Lana Popham said in a 2014 article (exhibit C below), as the taxes that residents pay for recycling would not be and have not been reduced.
We do not want to have to charge our customers an additional recycling fee, and additional fees will not increase the amount of products that are recycled.
Many businesses and entire industries have also found fault with Recycle BC’s program, allying under the banner Rethink It BC. After much opposition, 99% of business have been given exemptions from it.
See some of the many articles and links below.
The dozens of people in the ministry, Recycle BC, their parent company, and the politicians we’ve been in contact with, have not told us or shown us how we could comply. The program was not designed for businesses like ours. We haven’t refused to comply- it is impossible to comply. They have fined us for not doing something that is impossible to do. 99.75% of BC businesses are not participating, including most of our direct competitors. Not only is this process entirely absurd, but it also will not change the amount of recycling that currently happens in BC.
KMS Tools is committed to reducing waste
KMS goes above and beyond to provide practical solutions that benefit our environment. Let’s be honest- we’re a bunch of hands-on tinkerers that can’t stand the thought of throwing out perfectly good stuff!
Here are some of the ways we reduce, re-use, and recycle:
- With our Tools for the World program, we go the extra several miles to keep old tools out of the landfills by giving them a new life overseas in developing countries, or when disaster strikes locally or abroad. (Read more about the Tools for the World program here)
- Our service shop repairs tools every day that would otherwise be tossed.
- As part of our 5 Star Advantage Plan, we offer a convenient trade-in value for used tools or machines. The plan also provides an extra year warranty on a huge selection of tools and machines. Both of these plans prolong the life of the tools, reducing waste.
- Our distribution warehouses reuse shipping boxes and all the pallets that we can, repairing them as required to prolong their lifespans. Several months ago Recycle BC canceled their pallet recycling program in the Lower Mainland.
- We reuse and repurpose all kinds of display units, shelving, furnishings, and more, sometimes at the cost of a less-polished display.
- We encourage our customers to subscribe to our e-flyer, and we limit our monthly flyer mail-outs to those who have subscribed, plus a few times a year we distribute them in local newspapers in select areas where our blue collar target market lives and works.
- With our Custom And Restoration (C.A.R.) Parts division, we are also dedicated to keeping old cars that still have life from being scrapped, supplying the tools and parts to restore them, sometimes with more efficient modern engines.
- Most KMS Tools locations have been upgraded to use the latest state of the art efficient lighting, heating systems, and the highest standard of AC, to minimize the impact on the planet.
- Our offices have gone almost completely paper-free.
- KMS Tools adheres to all city and provincial recycling programs, and goes beyond the norm.
KMS Tools is a BC owned and operated industrial supplier of tools and equipment. They have been providing quality tools to the tradespeople and industries that have built our communities for 40 years.
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