Product Care Association, a non-profit corporation established by industry, has developed a product stewardship program plan for submission to Manitoba Conservation pursuant to the requirements of the Household Hazardous Material and Prescribed Material Stewardship Regulation under the Waste Reduction and Prevention Act. Product Care manages all or parts of stewardship programs in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for certain products.
A draft of the product stewardship program plan, which covers specific categories of household hazardous waste (including household paint, fluorescent lamps, flammable liquids, pesticides and other products) was the subject of stakeholder consultation sessions throughout the summer. The objective of the program plan is to increase industry’s role and responsibility for waste management, and implementation of comprehensive programs to improve consumer accessibility to recycling and disposal programs.
The regulation defines a “steward” as “the first person who, in the course of business in Manitoba, supplies a designated material to another person; or a person who, in the course of business in Manitoba, uses a designated material obtained in a supply transaction outside of Manitoba. The members of Product Care are companies that distribute products in Manitoba and that will fund the program by remitting eco-fees based on the quantities of product sold.
Once the program plan is approved by Manitoba Conservation, implementation of the plan will begin, including: identification and qualification of collection sites, transporters and processors; creation of a communication strategy; registration of stewards; and final cost analysis, budget development and fee setting. The program plan is intended to cover a five-year period from April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2016, at which time the plan will be reviewed.
BC expands recycling reg
British Columbia has made amendments to the Recycling Regulation to expand the electronic and electrical product category and include additional products. Specifically, the following products have been added: desktop/portable scanners, fax machines and copying equipment; telephones and telephone answering systems; mobile devices designed to connect to a cellular or paging network, including phones, cellular personal digital assistants and pagers; electronic or electrical audio visual and consumer equipment (including radio sets, cameras and video recorders designed for non-professional use, projectors, audio players, recorders, headphones, microphones, amplifiers, equalizers and speakers); fluorescent light bulbs and lamps sold for residential use; thermostats; and batteries for use in an electronic or electrical product. The amendments took effect on July 1, 2010.
Ontario haz-waste program
On July 1, 2010, Stewardship Ontario launched the Consolidated Phase of the new “Orange Drop Program” that was designed to facilitate the management of municipal hazardous or special waste materials by consumers. This phase of the program was intended to build upon the original 2008 Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste Program (referred to as Phase I of the program).
Under Orange Drop, the existing nine types of hazardous and special waste materials were expanded to 22 addition product types. The program was intended to shift the cost of end-of-life management of these materials from municipalities to manufacturers and importers.
However, the Consolidated Phase was temporarily suspended on July 20, 2010 as a result of public opposition and negative publicity around inconsistencies in the eco fees; different fees were sometimes charged to consumers on similar products and between retail locations. The fees were announced at the same time as the Harmonized Sales Tax in Ontario.
Shortly after suspension of the program, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario issued a report stating that the program didn’t meet the criteria for a true stewardship program, pointing out that stewards only pay for end-of-life management costs for the portions of their products collected through the program, not materials going directly to landfill, which remain the financial responsibility of municipalities.
The commissioner was also concerned about stewards paying a flat fee per unit of products within each material category, whereas the fee should vary according to a specific product’s environmental attributes. The commissioner argued there’s no motivation for companies to design for the environment. He recommended that stewards finance all waste management costs, including the cost of disposing of products not captured by the program, and that steward fees should differ based on the end-of-life costs of responsibly managing that product’s waste.
On October 12, 2010, the Ministry of the Environment issued an announcement that it was terminating the program that took effect on July 1, 2010. The existing program will continue to operate, but the ministry intends to establish a special team to investigate incorrect or misleading fees being charged by retailers. The ministry also intends to request consumer representation on the independent boards that deliver waste diversion programs and to improve oversight by including provisions for both increased reporting and third-party audits.
In response, Stewardship Ontario issued a statement that it intends to undertake an education program for consumers to address concerns and will establish a Consumer Advisory Committee to reflect public interest and ensure consumer concerns are addressed when developing and implementing programs. Stewardship Ontario also announced that it will be undertaking a complete review of all its programs to ensure that they are delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Rosalind Cooper, LL.B., is a partner with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, with offices across Canada. Ms. Cooper is based in Toronto, Ontario. Contact Rosalind at firstname.lastname@example.org