Blue Box has evolved to become a significant advocacy file for Canadian magazine media and most all other manufacturers whose products are recycled within residential Blue Box programs. Three provinces (QC; ON; MB) are currently running Blue Box Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs with another two (BC; SK) expected to be up and running within months. All remaining provinces are expected to have programs in place within the next three years. Canadian publishers take their environmental responsibilities seriously, are registering with Blue Box programs and are paying fees, and yet:
- Provincial governments have yet to successfully capture foreign magazine volume and fees within their programs
- Canadian magazine publishers are paying for foreign tonnage that is not of their making and is not their responsibility
Progress is being made, but much work remains to be done to ensure fair and equitable treatment within each and every provincial Blue Box program.
A province by province overview:
Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance (CSSA)
- Establish magazine presentation on CSSA’s Board of Directors to ensure appropriate support of “printed paper” issues. New BOD appointments are expected in 2015.
- Once achieved, adjust MC’s strategies for dealing with CSSA issues from within.
- CSSA currently provides services for British Columbia (MMBC), Saskatchewan (MMSW), Manitoba (MMSM) and Ontario (SO) operations. All other emerging jurisdictions are in discussions with CSSA. Quebec remains outside of CSSA influence but some cooperation exists.
MC remains a member of the CSSA Industry Advisory Committee (IAC). MC continues to advocate for magazine representation on the CSSA BOD and is working from within to achieve national harmonization, increased control within individual EPR programs and improved communication across all stakeholders.
New CSSA BOD appointments are expected in 2015 (possibly Q2 2015, TBD).
Nova Scotia (Nova Scotia Environment)
- First round consultations are completed and introduction of a draft program is imminent.
- Suggested leaning towards a shared responsibility model e.g. MMSW.
- CSSA remains in discussion.
MC continues to work with regulators to ensure understanding of unique print issues and needs.
Draft program details are anticipated mid-2015 triggering a second round of public consultation.
New Brunswick (Recycle NB)
- Despite having initiatied exploratory work on this file in 2013, NB appears to be inactive at this time. It is anticipated that NB will follow Nova Scotia’s lead.
- CSSA in conversation.
MC continues to monitor.
Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador
- No indication of program development to date.
- Expectation they will follow the NS lead.
MC continues to monitor.
Quebec (Eco Entreprises Quebec)
- Additional research underway to help fully resolve the ongoing discussion between EEQ and Recycle Quebec (RQ) regarding who pays for unstewarded (orphaned) materials. A temporary 7.5% fee reduction remains in place. This research will delay 2015 fee setting, affecting Stewards’ ability to budget forward.
- EEQ is actively exploring ways to simplify and stabilize its fee setting formula while staying within QC’s existing legislative framework.
- MC has expressed concerns to EEQ and RQ stating that it is essential that any fee setting change be national in scope, in harmony with all other provincial jurisdictions. MC has recommended tight collaboration with CSSA and other provinces.
- Quebec publisher lawsuit remains in the courts.
MC remains involved with EEQ’s Association Advisory Group (AAG). Work with the AAG to uphold fairness to magazines while influencing 2015 fee setting methodology. MC continues to advocate for greater national harmonization of legislation and regulation.
Ongoing research will delay fee setting decisions from Q1 to Q2 2015. Review 2015 fee setting proposals within context of harmonization with other provincial small business policies. Monitor progress of lawsuit, as permissible, within existing non-disclosure constraints. Resolution expected in 2016.
Ontario (Stewardship Ontario)
Waste Reduction Act (Bill 91) Redux
- Consultations regardng a successor to failed Bill 91 have begun in order to establish a framework around which new legislation can be built.
- New MOECC Minister, Glen Murray, has distanced himself from Bill 91 and most staff involved in its design are no longer involved.
- Minister Murray is moving towards a broadly-based waste diversion and climate change strategy as outlined in the recently released Ontario Climate Change Discussion Paper.
MC is working with the Coalition for Effective Waste Reduction in Ontario (CEWRO) to educate and ensure common Ontario-wide messaging around recommended legislative/regulatory needs that support true EPR for all Ontario Stewards.
Expect ongoing consultations throughout the year with draft legislation possible in Q4 2015.
2015 Fee Setting Methodology Consultation
- MC’s work with SO to change its unfair fee setting methodology contiinues to move forward. Despite public consultation for change having resulted in a Steward deadlock, there is now recognition that methodological change is required at the national level given similar issues in MB and QC (most provincial jurisdictions use a similar SO-based 3-factor fee setting methodology).
- Consultations will continue soon via a scheduled webinar presentation.
- A negotiated manual fee setting intervention remains in force for printed paper until this methodological issue can be resolved.
- Must be very vigilant in assessing any revision to the fee setting methodology. There will be winners and losers.
MC continues to work behind the scenes with SO and work within the CSSA IAC is ongoing.
Consultations begin March 17, 2015.
2014 Fee Setting Arbitration
- An arbitration ruling, focused on what the term “50% of the total net costs incurred” means, has upheld complaints brought by Ontario municipalities against SO. The net result is that SO must top up 2014 payments by approximately $20 million. All future fee rates will increase as a result.
- Despite this finding, the arbitrator upheld the expectation that costs incurred by municipalities must be reasonable if SO is to fairly pay 50%, and that SO and the municipalities must now come to a new neighbourhood understanding that ensures fairness for all.
MC continues to monitor outcomes and future implications.
Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO)
- WDO’s dispute regarding SO’s new service agreement with CSSA has been resolved.
No follow up required.
Manitoba Recycling and Waste Reduction: A Discussion Paper
- Government has initiated a broad review of recycling and waste reduction strategies including EPR, organics, ICI greenhouse gas emissions.
MC is participating in this consultation offering strategic viewpoints that affect magazines.
Consultation ends March 20, 2015.
2015 Fee Setting
- 2015 MMSM fee setting proposals have met with strong opposition resulting in broad Steward agreement that the fee setting methodology is broken and needs an overhaul.
- Proposed 2015 magazine fees increase from 5.65 cents/kilogram to 14.11 cents/kilogram (after surplus) or 7.02 cents/kilogram (before surplus).
- Fee setting consultation is expected to begin in Q2.
MC registered a strong letter in protest of 2015 fee setting decisions recommending that an overahaul of the fee setting methodology is required in line with similar ON and QC conversations. MC will continue its involvement with this issue.
2015 fee setting consultations are expected in Q1/Q2 2015.
Saskatchewan (Multi-Material Stewardship Western)
- MMSW’s January 1, 2015 launch has been delayed indefinitely due to an eleventh hour MOE proposal to significantly change MMSW’s government-approved operational/financial plan. Proposed MOE changes are:
- Exemptions for select small-/medium-size businesses requiring all other registered Stewards to pay for those exempted.
- Government approval of fee setting can result in arbitrary, non-transparent and politicized fee setting (Minister is currently non-negotiable on this point).
- Proposed changes create an MMSW funding gap resulting in MMSW cancelling all municipal contracts while reviewing its operational and legal options.
- Withdrawal of MMSW’s plan would place all registered Stewards in non-compliance.
- Acceptance of MOE’s proposals would set a dangerous precedent in all EPR jurisdictions.
- The MOE is striking a committee to discuss exemption details. This is seen as a political exercise to support the Minister’s decisions.
MC has registered its many concerns with the Minister. MC remains in collabration with CSSA’s IAC. MC and other industry associations are exploring development of a Blue Box Day in Regina to educate and lobby all relevant parts of the SK government.
- With initial public consultations completed, government has concluded that further research and consultation are necessary before taking any action on a new EPR Printed Paper & Packaging (PPP) program, given concerns raised by many industry sectors.
- CSSA is in discussion.
MC continues to monitor the initiation of renewed consultations. MC continues to work with AMPA.
Timing is unclear. Awaiting government updates.
British Columbia (Multi Material BC)
- 150 medium/large unregistered BC-based companies investigated by BC’s MOE to force compliance. Notices of non-compliance have been sent.
- StewardChoice’s bid to launch a competitive program remains unapproved:
- StewardChoice’s plan promises increased waste diversion by targeting multi-family households/buildings. Fee setting would be privately negotiated with each individual Steward company.
- StewardChoice’s request for MOE approval remains in limbo given governmet concerns regarding a lack of fee setting transparency and the resulting potential for unfair outcomes, particularly among small and medium-size businesses.
MC continues advocacy for increased compliance efforts.
Response to StewardChoice anticipated in Q1/Q2.