Waves Coffee hit with $31K in fines for coffee cup recycling failures

A B.C.-based coffee chain has been assessed almost $31,000 in administrative penalties for continued noncompliance with recycling regulations.

Waves Coffee Inc. has been ordered to pay $30,891 under B.C.'s extended producer responsibility (EPR) requirements that say a distributor of paper products — including coffee cups — must have an approved collection and recycling program in place or appoint an agency to carry out those duties.

Based in New Westminster, Waves operates or franchises 21 coffee shops in the province and had gross annual revenue of over $1,000,000 in 2022.

Initially, the company was found liable for $73,900 in penalties, a sum that was adjusted down to the $40,000 maximum allowed under the regulations.

The amount was further reduced to $30,891 after the company contested the estimated number of coffee cups used in the calculation.

According to the determination, Waves was aware of its responsibilities under B.C.'s recycling regulations as early as 2020 and paid a $1,000 penalty for failing to provide information to a compliance officer in 2021.

In 2023, the ministry said Waves was issued a reminder after being found out of compliance with EPR regulations.

The determination says, "Waves Coffee has a history of failing to respond to the Ministry, refusing to provide information, and generally being non-cooperative."

In submissions, Waves owner Kayvan Rahmati said he only assumed operational responsibility for the company in March 2022, after the sudden passing of his father. He said before that he had only limited involvement.

The determination said no evidence was provided to support the assertion and that Rahmati had been in contact with the ministry on the EPR matter since 2019.

The penalty was assessed under the Environmental Management Act.

The company has 30 days to appeal.