Alberta recycling fee for new electronics
As of February 1, 2005, electronic retailers in Alberta will be required to collect an environmental fee in connection with the sale of new televisions, computers or related equipment. Alberta launched its new electronics recycling program in October, 2004 and the fee collected is part of this program. The fee is intended to cover the cost of collection, transportation and recycling of electronic materials, as well as public information awareness programs and electronics recycling-related research. The program involves televisions, computer monitors, central processing units including keyboards and cables, laptops, notebook computers and printers, all of which are accepted for recycling in Alberta. The program is being managed by the Alberta Recycling Management Association (ARMA), a non-profit organization.
BC class actions challenge
The Consumers’ Association of Canada has filed a class action lawsuit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia against the beverage industry, retailers and Encorp Pacific, which is the authorized steward approved by the government in British Columbia. The basis of the action is the alleged illegal use of consumer deposits collected under the Beverage Container Stewardship Program Regulation in British Columbia.
The Consumers’ Association of Canada argues that the deposits collected from consumers can only be used for one purpose, namely, for the payment of refunds to consumers when containers are returned. The lawsuit alleges that, since 1998, the industry has collected and used over $70 million in consumer deposits for purposes not authorized by the Beverage Container Stewardship Program Regulation. Examples of such uses include payment of damages awarded as a result of a lawsuit against the beverage container agency for improper conduct in the operation of its stewardship plan. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that the beverage industry has imposed an additional recycling fee on top of the deposit collected and has, since 1999, collected about $60 million in recycling fees without any legislative authority for doing so.
Another class action, similar in nature, was filed in the Quebec Superior Court against retailers and authorized stewards in several jurisdictions across Canada. The lawsuit contains similar allegations as in the British Columbia action.
PEI mandates review of Waste Watch
Prince Edward Island’s Waste Management Corporation is a Crown agency that manages solid waste in PEI. The corporation has announced the introduction of legislation that will require the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission to independently review and approve rate adjustments to the province’s Waste Watch Program. Factors that will be assessed by the commission in setting rates for households and businesses include: costs associated with providing education to residents, visitors and business; collection and transportation; capital infrastructure, administration; and, final disposal costs for residential and commercial sectors. The commission is expected to begin reviewing rates by the end of the year and to ensure that the corporation operates on a full cost recovery basis.
Nova Scotia bans e-waste from landfill
New regulations have been released by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour that will ban e-waste from landfills.
The Solid Waste-Resource Management Regulations under the Environment Act will be amended to achieve the ban. Other amendments include establishing requirements for electronic products stewardship programs, whereby brand owners will develop programs for designing and packaging products to avoid excess or unnecessary generation of waste. These programs will require approval from the Department of Environment and Labour prior to implementation. (See article, page 17.)
Ontario issues stewardship guides
Stewardship Ontario has released several guides to assist stewards in their reporting and fee calculations for 2005. Four guidebooks have been or are about to be released. Guidebook 1 explains basic program features such as blue box waste stewards and their obligations. Guidebook 2 provides guidance for stewards to develop data for reports and covers designated materials including packaging exemptions. Guidebook 3 describes how to file a steward’s report for first-time users. Guidebook 4 simplifies the reporting process for 2005 and is intended for returning stewards.
Stewardship Ontario has also authorized the use of two calculator tools. The first is the Unit Based Calculator, which is developed for food and consumer product brand owners including private label products for grocery distributors. The second is the Composite Based Calculator, which was developed by the Retail Council of Canada and includes five separate calculators for furniture, hardware, kitchenware, linen and small appliances, each with a defined list of products.
Quebec recycling regulation takes effect
In Quebec, the regulation respecting compensation for municipal services provided to recover and reclaim residual materials took effect March 1, 2005, and has established a new compensation regime for recycling programs. The regulation obliges affected companies to be responsible for fifty percent of the net costs incurred from municipal curbside recycling programs. Several agreements and a fee schedule will be adopted in the coming months under the regulation, and it is expected that the industry funding organization, co Entreprises Qubec, will begin negotiations with municipal bodies to determine net costs incurred in 2004 for curbside recycling programs, identify target companies, develop an internet site and prepare a draft fee schedule for public consultation.
Rosalind Cooper, LL.B. is a partner with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, in Toronto, Ontario. E-mail Rosalind at firstname.lastname@example.org