Posts Tagged ‘Ontario Electronic Stewardship’

Cancellation of Phase 2 of Stewardship Ontario’s MHSW Program a Major Step Backwards for EPR

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

On October 12, Ontario’s Environment Minister John Wilkinson announced that the government was cancelling Phase 2 of Stewardship Ontario’s Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste (MHSW) Program. This means that eco-fees will not be charged on products such as fire extinguishers, rechargeable batteries and compact fluorescent light bulbs. This decision followed several months of consulting with stakeholders about the program.

The government has stated that eco-fees will not be allowed into the future and that the province will fund municipal governments to manage materials that were to have been part of the Phase 2 program.  Until when, you ask?  The answer is indefinitely – or until an alternative solution is found.

CIELAP is concerned about what has happened to the government’s commitment to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).  EPR makes producers and brand owners responsible for the management of the waste materials they put into the market in the first place.

The government’s move may sound as though it’s providing tax relief; however, it is simply shifting the costs of material management from the producers and consumers (those who produce, profit from and use the products) onto provincial taxpayers (who don’t necessarily have anything to do with the products).  This is in no way more fair and transparent.  The Minister’s recent decision is a major step backwards for EPR

Another challenge with this recent decision is that it leaves material management gaps.  While municipalities have had programs in place for some time to deal with wastes such as compact fluorescent lights, syringes, and toxic materials, they have no existing programs to handle materials such as pharmaceuticals.  This gap needs to be addressed quickly by working with municipalities and/or industry groups to develop appropriate programs.

An overarching frustration in all of this is that the problematic Waste Diversion Act and all the structures and processes it sets in place have not yet been replaced by a stronger mechanism for waste management in Ontario.

We urge Minister Wilkinson to think beyond eco-fees and to use this opportunity to get waste management right in the province by:

1)      Staying committed to the principles of EPR and requiring that producers pay for the management of waste materials rather than taxpayers.

2)      Putting in place timelines and processes to return to an industry-funded model and ensuring that material management gaps are addressed.

3)      Renewing its commitment to the review of the Waste Diversion Act and moving towards stronger waste management in the province in a timely manner.

Carolyn Webb

Programmes Manager

Phase 2 of Ontario’s WEEE Program Plan Announced.

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, Hon. John Gerretsen, announced Phase 2 of Ontario’s ambitious program for dealing with waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) on March 30th at the City of Toronto Reuse Centre. This comes after Phase 1’s first full year of operation. On top of computers, computer peripherals, TVs, printers, and monitors that can already be recycled under Phase 1, Phase 2 is set to include cell phones, telephones, scanners, copiers, typewriters, modems, and almost any audio visual equipment, such as cameras and stereos. Since WEEE is a rapidly growing and highly toxic waste stream, this is a step in the right direction for Ontario’s sustainability and for the province to become a North American leader for handling WEEE in a responsible manner. This program reflects Ontario’s broader goal of implementing a waste management strategy based around extended producer responsibility (EPR), which transfers responsibility for dealing with a product’s end-of-life from municipalities to the companies that design them. Currently, companies in the electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) industry fund an organization responsible for collecting and recycling, refurbishing, or disposing of WEEE, Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES), through the fees it charges on EEE sold in Ontario.

So, how well has Phase 1 of the WEEE Program Plan worked after its first full year of implementation? The results look to have been mediocre at best. When the Program Plan was released on March 10, 2008, it was estimated that 42,000 tonnes of WEEE would be collected after the first year of the program. That number was reduced to 33,200 tonnes in the Revised Program Plan released 16 months later. And in a technical memo released in December of 2009, after the program had been operating for 9 months, the amount of WEEE expected to be collected was just 23,200 tonnes. OES estimated that there was approximately 64,000 tonnes of Phase 1 WEEE available for collection last year, and so over a third of designated WEEE was diverted from landfills. However, this is 55% less than what was initially projected. The reason stated for the missed target was that “OES is actively competing for WEEE with a group of companies that have chosen not to participate in the OES program.” However, OES requires that any producer that chooses not to participate has to submit its own program plan, so these effects should have been taken into consideration when the projections were made. The technical memo neglects to state how much WEEE is being diverted through these non-participating collection organizations, so it is difficult to judge the overall effectiveness of the program.

There may be other reasons why the target has been missed. A key driver for the success of this program is consumer participation through an effective promotion and education initiative. This initiative has been lacking. Anecdotally, few people I’ve spoken to have heard of this program. A few newspaper articles discussed its announcement a year ago, but there has been little or no media exposure since. I also decided to investigate how the collection sites were promoting this program, so I went down to my local drop-off point, the Salvation Army on Parliament Street in Toronto’s East End. When I arrived, the first thing I noticed was an absence of any signage. When I inquired about this, the cashier explained to me that they did not have a van to transport the WEEE to a central collection point, and, on top of that, they had no more available storage space. So they aren’t collecting WEEE anymore. Despite this, that Salvation Army is still listed on the OES website,, where consumers can find their nearest collection point.

There are, of course, bound to be some kinks in any new program of this nature and the WEEE Program definitely attempts to address problems with WEEE that have been shirked in the past. I look forward to hearing what action the government or OES plans to take so future targets can be met.

Jake Gregory, CIELAP Volunteer