[This post has been updated] The magazine publishers of Quebec are intent on fighting back against a new bill of $5 million a year for the "blue-boxing" of their publications. They are going to challenge a new Quebec bill in court for the inequitable way it intends to finance curbside recycling.
According to a column in La Presse by Hélène Baril, the publishers argue that, as structured, the new bill may kill an industry that's not exactly flourishing.
"Since the adoption of Law 88 on waste in June 2011, the editors have taken the time to calculate the amount of the bill they will pay, retroactive to 2010. And it makes their hair stand on end," she said.
Robert Goyette, editor of Reader's Digest and president of the Quebec Association of Magazine Publishers says the attributed share of the magazines in the recycling bins is "unfair and disproportionate." He also points out that this is 7 or 8 times more than an equivalent Ontario publisher.
The new bill 88 has fundamentally changed the way curbside recycling is paid for. Previously, half was the responsibility of municipalities, half of industry. Now it will be borne 100% by the industries involved and the share expected of magazines is huge. The tariff is divided by the percentage of paper found in a green bin: 60% for cans and bottles; 30% for magazines and flyers; 10% for newspapers.
Félix Maltais, Publications BLD, which publishes Débrouillards and Explorers, said contributions required by the government of magazines is too high."The idea is not to avoid paying," he says. All we ask is to be treated fairly." He said the $40,000 or $50,000 bill for his magazines each year would wipe out the already thin margins of the publications.
The TVA group, the largest magazine publisher in Quebec, must pay a $3.4 milllion contribution for 2010, 2011 and 2012. President Pierre Dion says these additional costs threaten "serious viability and financial stability of the industry" which is why the company is going to court to challenge the law; the other Quebec magazine publishers association is considering becoming part of the lawsuit.[Update: four major publishing groups have joined the suit including TC Media, Rogers and Readers Digest.]To add insult to injury, magazine publishers are steamed that daily and weekly newspapers are not only assessed only 10% of the Blue Box burden, but are allowed to pay their bill partly by giving advertising space. So, for 2013, their contribution is $6.5 million, only $3 million of which is cash, while magazine publishers will have to pay their entire $5 million bill in cash.
[photo: Patrick Woodbury, LeDroit]