Stewardship Ontario is working with government to help address consumer's
concerns about eco-fees

TORONTO, July 16 /CNW/ - Stewardship Ontario today announced that it has replied to the letter it received from Environment Minister John Gerretsen on July 13th, and is working closely with the government to address consumer's concerns about eco fees.

"We've listened to consumers, and we have heard them loud and clear," said Gemma Zecchini, Chief Executive Officer of Stewardship Ontario. "We've started taking steps to ensure that people have a better understanding of our programs and the ways they are funded, and we're working with the government to find productive solutions."

In responding to the Minister's letter, Stewardship Ontario confirmed that a number of actions have already been taken on its part. These include:

    
    -   Posting information on its web site about the way it charges fees to
        the businesses that manufacture, market, or sell products that
        ultimately wind up as waste;

    -   Asking consumers to contact the Stewardship Ontario call centre if
        they believe they might have been over-charged, in order to help
        retailers to resolve any calculation errors that may have been made;

    -   Advising businesses that they cannot charge eco fees in excess of
        Stewardship Ontario guidelines, or that they face consequences for
        failing to comply with existing provincial legislation; and

    -   Increasing communications to encourage people to use the Orange Drop
        program, and to bring their household hazardous waste - like old
        paint cans and fluorescent light bulbs - to a municipal depot,
        collection event or retail store participating in this important
        program.
    

Stewardship Ontario is also helping the government with policy options to ensure that fees are accurately applied on designated products and that they are communicated transparently to consumers at the point of sale. Stewardship Ontario will work closely with government as they develop the necessary regulatory amendments.

"Our entire team feels terribly about the way in which our programs - and the way they are paid for - have angered consumers," Zecchini said. "But we also believe that getting people who make and use products to help pay for their recycling is the right thing to do."

All Ontarians can be are very proud of the Orange Drop program, and Stewardship Ontario encourages Ontarians to bring their hazardous waste materials to the closest Orange Drop depot, and to continue recycling through their Blue Boxes.

    
    About Stewardship Ontario:
    --------------------------
    

Stewardship Ontario is an independent, industry-funded and managed organization mandated under the Waste Diversion Act. It operates two waste diversion programs in Ontario - the Blue Box program, which provides municipalities with funding to support the residential recycling of paper and packaging; and the Orange Drop program, targeting the collection and recovery of hazardous and special waste materials through municipal depots and special drop-off events. Stewardship Ontario is not a government agency, and reports to a board of directors made up of representatives from the retail and consumer products industry.

None of Stewardship Ontario's operating funding comes from taxpayers. In 2009 alone, Stewardship Ontario transferred to municipalities over $100 million from companies who manufacture, market, and sell products to offset the costs of recycling. Stewardship Ontario receives no taxpayer funds whatsoever for its operations.

Stewardship Ontario collects fees from stewards (the businesses that introduce obligated products into the marketplace). Stewards may incorporate the fee into the price of the product or can choose to pass the fee on visibly at the point of sale.

All Ontarians can be proud of our results when it comes to waste diversion and recycling. The recycling rate for paper and packaging has increased from 46% in 2003 to 66% in 2008. Last year, the Orange Drop program diverted over 18 million kilograms of waste from landfills and waterways and is on target to divert some 27 million kilograms under the new program launched July 1.

SOURCE Stewardship Ontario

For further information: For further information: Amanda Harper Sevonty, Director Marketing and Communications, Stewardship Ontario, Office 416-323-0101 ext 161, Mobile: 647-248-6787, Email: AHarper-Sevonty@stewardshipontario.ca

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Stewardship Ontario

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