January 29, 2007

Manitoba to revamp product stewardship programs to give industry the leading role

A proposed regulation under Manitoba's Waste Reduction and Prevention (WRAP) Act would shift responsibility for managing recyclable materials collected by municipalities from the Manitoba Product Stewardship Corporation to a new organization to be established by industry stewards.

Intended to replace the existing multi-material stewardship regulation (MR 39/95), the proposed packaging and printed paper stewardship regulation would broaden the definitions of stewards and of designated materials (making the latter consistent with stewardship programs in Ontario and Quebec), as well as requirements for public consultation on the development of a business plan for the stewardship program.

"As part of Manitoba's continuing effort to reduce waste and protect the environment, the province is strengthening its product stewardship program," said Conservation Minister Stan Struthers. "The proposed regulation is based on the principles of producer responsibility and will require producers to act as stewards of packaging and printed papers and develop plans for sustainable management of all residential recyclables."

In addition to reducing the government's direct involvement in program design and management, the regulatory changes are intended to build on the success of current programs while providing more flexibility for stewards to set program fees as may be required to implement the program. The new model will also serve to reinforce the links between product design and the environment.

The new regulation would expand the current definition of designated material from specific product and packaging streams to include all packaging and printed paper. The definition of steward would be broadened considerably to include a far greater variety of participants in the distribution chain for a designated product, among them brand owners, manufacturers, distributors and importers, as well as suppliers of packaging or printed paper for a prescribed activity such as fundraising or public relations. This would bring in as stewards organizations including the provincial government, municipalities, educational institutions, churches or religious groups, and non-profit organizations.

Unlike the existing two-cent WRAP levy on non-deposit, non-dairy beverage containers, the proposed regulation specifies no product fees or levies, instead requiring industry to determine an appropriate financial system and to propose fees to ensure the sustainable management of designated materials. Stewards would also be responsible for proposing how revenue from fees would be collected to support the sustainable management of recyclable materials.

Industry stewards would not have to be licensed, as is currently required for stewards of beverage containers, but would be required to operate or participate in a stewardship program in order to be allowed to sell their products in Manitoba.

The current system requires stewards to prepare a three-year business plan for their programs, which must be approved by the Conservation Minister. No specific guidance is offered, nor is there a requirement for public consultation. The new system would require public consultation on the preparation of business plans and the Minister's approval would stipulate the program operational period.

Manitoba Conservation is working with Green Manitoba, a special operating agency of government, to shift the province's approach to product stewardship to a regulated, industry-based model in which companies that produce or distribute designated products will be responsible for developing a program to manage wastes from these products.

Green Manitoba will be leading consultations on household recycling as well as industry consultations focusing on three other areas of product stewardship: scrap tires, household hazardous waste (HHW) and waste from electronic products (e-waste).

"These new initiatives will see government, industry and communities working together to achieve our waste reduction goals and strengthen environmental protection," said Science, Technology, Energy and Mines Minister Jim Rondeau.

The government has also drafted guidelines to help stewards prepare business plans and to assist in program performance measurement. This document outlines what stewards need to understand about the regulation, clarifies stakeholder roles and responsibilities, and provides guidance on performance, operational and reporting expectations of programs to be established for the management of packaging and printed paper.

Comments on the proposed regulation and the guide for stewards are due by February 26, 2007. Both documents may be viewed on-line at www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/pollutionprevention. A comment form may also be downloaded from the site. Print copies may be requested from Manitoba Conservation's pollution prevention branch, 204/945-8443 (toll-free 1-800-282-8069, ext. 8443), FAX 204/945-1211, E-mail pollupreve@gov.mb.ca

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