Bottle-depot handling fees precedent
The Alberta Beverage Container Management Board (BCMB) received the much-anticipated decision of Madam Justice Bielby in judicial reviews by the Western Brewers Association (WBA) and Alberta Bottle Depot Association (ABDA) concerning the setting of beer-container handling commissions on June 26, 2003. The court validated the “regulated industry” pricing approach to the setting of handling fees for bottle depots. As a result there is now a Canadian precedent to set handling fees which also helps to address the political “baseball style” of arbitrating waste management fees, which has often been the last resort.
The decision is quashed on the basis that the information and methodology utilized previously was insufficient, and the process leading to the decision was unfair to the parties. She held that the methodology must be consistent with the “traditional” utility rate-setting approach. The BCMB must gather sufficient information and take the following steps to utilize this approach, including:
The BCMB must gather appropriate evidence from the Uniform Code of Accounts, and other capital cost information as may be required;
The BCMB must define a procedure for representations to be made by the interested parties to provide a fair opportunity for the parties to know the information gathered and for the interested parties or their counsel to make representations to the Board;
The Board shall consider the recommendations of BCMB Management and the representations of the interested parties, and utilize the approach required by Madam Justice Bielby to determine an appropriate handling commission for each container. If the Board is not unanimous in its decision, the question of handling commissions will be referred to an arbitration; and,
The arbitration procedure should be revised, and should not be the “baseball style” arbitration originally proposed by the BCMB.
The decision provides the BCMB with a road map for the appropriate information and calculations to be utilized, while upholding the composition of the BCMB, and its ability to refer handling commission decisions to arbitration.
(See article, “Sense and Cents: Alberta’s new approach to bottle-depot handling fees” in the April/May 2003 edition.)
Municipalities await minister’s approval of WDO plan
At the Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) meeting in late July, industry representatives expressed concerns about the industry cost requirements to fund the new municipal waste diversion plan. The real costs for industry are reportedly about 25 per cent higher than were previously estimated.
WDO is a partnership made up of industry, municipal, non-governmental representatives and the Ontario Ministry of Environment to develop, implement and fund waste diversion programs. Under this partnership, industry funding will pay municipalities 50 per cent of their blue box program net costs. The group will also develop programs for other wastes such as scrap tires, used oil, household special wastes, organics, etc.
The WDO board already approved the program plan in February and the posting on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry ended in May. The Ontario Minister of Environment was expected to make a decision on the plan shortly after. However, there were complications with former minister Chris Stockwell (who has since retired from politics) and the new minister Jim Wilson has not provided approval yet.
Stewardship Ontario, the blue box industry funding organization staffed by CSR: Corporations Supporting Recycling, advised brand-owners to prepare for a June 1, 2003 obligation date. The date of obligation will now obviously be later, assuming the plan is approved. In the meantime, WDO has developed interim consultation plans for those affected by diversion programs to manage used oil and tires.
Contact the WDO at 416-226-5113 or email@example.com