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“Opinion” Regulatory Developments Across Canada


 

Stewardship Executives Charged with Diversion of Eco Fees

Two former executives with Ontario Tire Stewardship are facing provincial charges for alleged misappropriation of eco-fees paid by Ontario drivers on tire purchases. The Investigations and Enforcement Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change charged the two executives under the Waste Diversion Act. Ontario Tire Stewardship had a surplus of approximately $50 million in consumer paid fees last year based on approximately $70 million in fees collected.

Since notice of the charges, a decision has been made to shut down Ontario Tire Stewardship, which is the smallest of the three recycling programs operated in Ontario. Ontario Tire Stewardship will be eliminated under new legislation designed to improve recycling in Ontario. The Executive Director of Ontario Tire Stewardship has been given a deadline of October 31, 2017 to submit a wind-up plan, with operations to cease by December 31, 2018.

Significant Fines for Violations of PCB Regulations

Substantial fines have been imposed for violations of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (“CEPA”) and the PCB Regulations on two companies in relation to PCBs. One of the companies is a major Montreal property management firm and was fined $975,000 for improper handling of electrical equipment containing PCBs. The company pleaded guilty to 52 charges after an investigation found that the company did not comply with the environmental protection compliance orders issued by enforcement officers. The company also did not meet its obligations relating to use, storage, and disposal of electrical equipment containing PCBs, and failed to submit reports on the use and storage of its electrical equipment. In addition to the fine, the company will have to publish an article on the facts surrounding the violation and develop procedures to manage contaminated electrical equipment for all of its buildings and provide training to managers and staff.

Similarly, another company located in Montreal was found guilty of six charges and fined $765,000 for a large release of PCBs into the environment. The company was directed to set up an environmental management system and provide training on the legal consequences of violating environmental legislation to its Canadian managers, as well as publish an article on the facts surrounding the offences. An investigation showed that several violations of CEPA and the Regulations occurred, including the release of more than 146 kg of PCBs into the environment; failing to notify of the release as soon as possible; taking all possible measures to prevent the release of PCBs in the environment; and, failing to submit annual reports for 2008, 2009, and 2010 within the required deadline.

New Brunswick Raises Handling Fees for Beverage Containers

The Province of New Brunswick recently filed a regulation under the Beverage Containers Act, which raises handling fees payable to redemption centres. The Regulation provides that, from December 2016 to March 31, 2017, inclusive, $0.03044 was to be paid for each empty refillable beer container and $0.04262 for all other empty beverage containers. After April 1, 2017, $0.03120 is to be paid for each empty refillable beer container and $0.04368 for all other empty beverage containers.

New Stewardship Plan for Suppliers of Automotive Related Materials

Ontario’s new Automotive Materials Stewardship’s Industry Stewardship Plan will be officially open, as of April 1, 2017, to handle waste diversion obligations for its member companies. The automotive materials covered include antifreeze and antifreeze containers, empty oil containers, and oil filters.

Companies that supply automotive materials to the Ontario market currently handle their own waste diversion obligations through Stewardship Ontario’s Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste program, and the stewardship fees paid by industry stewards finance the collection, transport, and recycling obligations.

With the transition to the new Automotive Materials Stewardship’s Industry Stewardship Plan, automotive stewards will have published and predictable fees with per unit rates, which will include the publication of an annual fee table to members in advance of each program year to assist with budget forecasting. There will also be annual savings of up to $2.5 million by allowing the program operator to claim input tax credits for HST paid on obligated materials.

Stewards have the choice of remaining with Stewardship Ontario until the existing program is wound down or can transition to the Automotive Materials Stewardship’s Industry Stewardship Plan by signing a letter of intent with Automotive Materials Stewardship. After signing the letter, stewards will be provided with a membership agreement to confirm participation and stewards must confirm that they will continue to comply with Stewardship Ontario’s rules for stewards under the existing program until the new Automotive Materials Stewardship’s Industry Stewardship Plan becomes effective on April 1, 2017. The new Automotive Materials Stewardships Industry Stewardship Plan was approved by the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority, formerly known as Waste Diversion Ontario.


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