In the last edition of this magazine (August/September) we published a letter from Kari Veno, communications manager for the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (“ARMA,” the agency that manages that province’s product stewardship programs for scrap tires and electronics waste) responding to Adam Chamberlain’s article “ARMA Alarm” (June/July edition). Mr. Chamberlain had raised questions about the constitutionality of certain ARMA fees for e-waste. In her letter, Ms. Veno stated that our author had “recycled unsubstantiated and inaccurate information” and that we had published “[u]nfounded and inaccurate criticism based on guesswork.”
We felt an obligation to treat Ms. Veno’s comments seriously and investigate the matter further. We felt that Ms. Veno’s letter did not satisfactorily deal with Mr. Chamberlain’s concerns. Our subsequent investigation of ARMA’s fees, using data from ARMA newsletters, suggested that Mr. Chamberlain had plenty of reason to ask questions. We articulated our concerns in a lengthy Editor’s Note, at the end of which we stated that page seven of this magazine edition would be made available for ARMA to answer our questions and refute our concerns with facts.
Subsequently, ARMA wrote that they were declining our invitation. We were surprised that ARMA staff would decline our offer of a whole page in which to speak directly to readers. Some of our questions could probably be answered by ARMA’s simply releasing the detailed audit that was conducted by consultants at Stantech (as part of compliance requirements of Electronic Products Stewardship Canada guidelines). We will ask ARMA for this document and (assuming we get it), will publish any further findings, even if they prove our earlier suspicions wrong. We will pursue this matter until we obtain the disclosure that we expect from public agencies whom consumers pay to manage government-mandated programs. Stay tuned. — ed