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British Columbia Rejects Proposal For Second Product Stewardship Option

Article-British Columbia Rejects Proposal For Second Product Stewardship Option

British Columbia has rejected a proposal for a second packaging and paper product stewardship option in the province, which its advocate said would give businesses and residents more recycling options.

StewardChoice Enterprises Inc., a relatively new producer responsibility firm, submitted a packaging and printer paper (PPP) stewardship plan in addition to British Columbia’s existing Multi Material British Columbia (MMBC) producer responsibility program for the province.

The BC Ministry of Environment rejected the plan, which had been through several revisions, according to a news release from the Burnaby, British Columbia-based StewardChoice.

Mark Zacharias, assistant deputy minister for the Ministry’s Environmental Protection Division, made four points in rejecting the alternative recycling proposal. He said in a letter that StewardChoice didn’t provided sufficient information on the potential resulting service reductions to the existing program by drawing producer funding away.  

The plan also does not adequately ensure that producers will pay the full cost of collecting and managing 75 percent of their produced packaging and printed paper volumes, as required.

That could leave consumers/taxpayers to fund the remaining costs, and could reduce reasonable and free consumer access to collection facilities.

And lastly, Zacharias said the StewardChoice plan appears rely on recycling companies or building owners with little coordination to raise the consumer awareness that is required by the provincial law.

“I have concluded that there would be significant implications for existing packaging and printed paper collection services in British Columbia and for the Ministry of Environment’s role in overseeing these services if the plan, in its current form, were to be approved and implemented,” Zacharias said.

“Needless to say, StewardChoice is extremely disappointed with the ministry’s decision,” said Neil Hastie, development director for StewardChoice. “We do not agree with the ministry’s objections, which seem to be insufficient on their own to be the basis for the rejection of our plan in any event. We were determined to provide producers with choice and expand access for residents who are not receiving a producer-funded PPP service, thereby offering benefits for both producer and residents.”

StewardChoice said it will appeal the decision. It said the ruling came after two years of discussions and 18 months of plan revisions with ministry officials.

The company said the BC Recycling Regulation allows for more than one approved plan within a product category. The ministry said it would undertake the work required to make policy changes before a second producer responsibility option was approved.

StewardChoice is a subsidiary of Reclay StewardEdge, an international stewardship organization.

In May 2011, British Columbia updated its Recycling Regulation to include packaging and printed paper. The regulation shifts the responsibility for managing the residential recycling of packaging and printed paper from regional and municipal governments and their taxpayers to business. British Columbia began rolling out its producer responsibility program in May 2014.

The province has set a recycling goal of 75 percent. MMBC represents more than 900 member businesses.

In September of last year a study by the Container Recycling Institute (CRI) said the British Columbia beverage container and recycling system, which was the first in the world in 1970, maintains a strong overall recovery rate of 84.2 percent. But the Culver City, Calif.-based CRI expressed concerns in the report about high container recycling fees, a lack of transparency in financial reporting and a bloated reserve fund.

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