What is a Stewardship Program?
A stewardship program requires manufacturers of certain consumer products to take financial and environmental responsibility for the end of life management of those products.
End of life management refers to the collection and recycling of the materials from consumers and commercial generators.
What makes a Stewardship Program successful?
There are several key factors that need to be considered when designing the framework for a successful stewardship program.
Based on sound Environmental Standards
- Recycling standards need to be set and enforced by the government. When stewards set standards, they are economically motivated to choose the lowest cost option as opposed to the best environmental performance.
- A clear definition of recycling (i.e. the recovery of materials that replace virgin materials as industrial feedstock in the production of new products).
- Minimum Recycling Rates need to be established. Energy from waste, bag house dust and slag are not recycling (RMC recycling rate 86% - 92% for alkaline batteries).
The current practice of simply repurposing secondary waste is not sustainable, nor should it be recognized as recycling. Recovered materials should be used for their intended purpose or upcycled into new products.
Producer funded "open market" based Incentive Approach
- There needs to be open access to all companies willing to compete under a regulated environmental standard. This creates jobs, competition and results in increased collections.
- Incentives are needed to drive collections and to create jobs.
Funds for Collectors & Transporters
- Due to the incentivized collection program in Ontario, the battery collection program has grown to include collections from curbside, multi-residential buildings, retail outlets, schools, hospitals, municipalities, ICI sector, government facilities and collections from NGO's.
- Collection rates over 90% have been achieved for lead-acid batteries due to their market value. Similar results are achievable for other battery types when proper incentives are available.
High Collection Targets
- High collection targets should be established and enforced by government. High collection targets combined with high environmental standards stimulate competition and investment, in addition to the obvious environmental benefits.
Performance Based Programs
- Compensation needs to be based on the success of collections, including incentives for higher recycling rates and more environmentally responsible processing methods. Rather than based on product sold into the marketplace as this economically rewards companies for not collecting and recycling.
What are some Barriers to a Successful Stewardship Program?
- Voluntary instead of incentive based.
- Primarily cost driven instead of environmentally sound management of materials.
- Does not call for continuous improvement, instead focus is on collections with weak targets and no focus on environmental outcomes or recycling efficiencies.
- Lack of Competition - program participation is limited to one IFO and or Collector.
- Environmental performance often dictated by the companies holding the purse strings, conflict of interest.
- Closed market and fixed pricing keep out innovation, job creation and competition.
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Raw Materials Company Inc.
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Did you know?
Lead-acid batteries are the oldest rechargeable batteries still in use today. In Canada, over 98% of all Lead-acid batteries are recovered for recycling.
Find out more about our technology and how together we are turning waste into a valuable resource.