In North America stewardship organizations, businesses, government and environmental organizations have endorsed these principles of product stewardship and extended producer responsibility:
- Producers are required to design, manage, and finance programs for end-of-life management of their products and packaging as a condition of sale.
- Producers have flexibility to design the product management system to meet the performance goals established by government, with minimum government involvement.
- Government is responsible for ensuring that producer programs are transparent and accountable to the public.
In BC, CTV News reported some recycling agencies raking in millions in profits
Solid Waste and Recycling published “LETTER: Response to BC’s ‘A’ grade from EPR Canada”
In Ontario, The Toronto Star headlines said, “Auditors called in Tire Stewardship Scandal”
While Canada’s EPR are doing a great job of diverting products from the landfill , all three stories suggest that more scrutiny and transparency is needed to answer where the money goes and how these recycling programs are being managed.
In August 2015, The Container Recycling Institute issued a report, “Review of British Columbia’s Container Recycling System Shows Strongly Performing System But Finds Growing Issues Around Fees and Transparency,” uncovering several areas of concern about BC beverage recycling program including :
- The presentation of financial data in Encorp’s annual report makes it impossible to know exactly how much its beverage container program costs. The report does not provide sufficiently transparent financial information to the Ministry of Environment, the agency authorized to carry out BC’s recycling regulation, nor to the public. Moreover, Encorp’s CRFs are determined by Encorp with no approval required by the Ministry, leaving consumers no recourse to affect change if desired.
- As Encorp’s CRFs have been steadily rising, its reserve fund has grown far beyond the $17 million it has calculated as a “prudent” minimum. By the end of 2014, the reserve stood at nearly $34 million.
Stewardship agencies submit audited financial statements such as Encorp Pacific’s 2014 financial statement with their annual reports but there are very few details of how the monies collected are spent.
Certainly the annual reports by these stewardship organizations do not summarize board executive expense accounts or spending as outlined in The Toronto Star article Ontario tire recycling fees found boozy board dinners nor do they report contributions to political parties an activity that both Encorp Pacific and Ontario Tire Stewardship have participated in.
Do we need to know what these stewardship organizations are using eco-fees for? Yes, there needs to be accountability by both stewardship organizations and provincial governments otherwise we continue to have the fox guarding the henhouse.