Anyone who, in British Columbia, offers products directly to retail consumers or offers products to participants in the supply (including manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers) of goods to retail consumers, may now be exposed to fines of up to $200,000 and other government action if they do not implement, or participate in, a stewardship program under newly enacted Provincial regulations:

Do you:

  1. manufacture and sell, distribute, or use a product in a business under your own brand?
  2. own a license or trademark under which a product is sold, distributed or used in a business?
  3. import products to sell, distribute, or use them?

AND

  1. do those products listed in any of items 1, 2, or 3 contain any paper or packaging material?

If you answered “Yes” to questions 1-3 AND answered “Yes” to question 4, then you probably need to implement operations to reduce, recover, and divert the paper and packaging in those products. If you do not, then you may face fines and other government action. You may be surprised by what is covered: shoeboxes, plastic and paper shopping bags, price tags, flyers, storage and shipping boxes, egg cartons, and other common retail packaging items. 

To comply with these newly enacted provincial regulations, you must do one of the following:

  • comply with certain parts of the recycling regulations;
  • prepare, file, and have approved a “stewardship plan”; or,
  • hire another person (called an “agent” under the new regulations) to perform one of these tasks for you.

The regulations and the components of the stewardship plan can be very complex. They involve identifying means by which you intend to reduce paper and packaging in your products, establish programs to encourage consumers to return paper and packaging, and include requirements to monitor and report on the success of recycling activities. Unless you have in-house expertise in this area, you will likely need to engage legal and other consulting support to prepare a compliance plan and have it approved. Many businesses may opt to engage an “agent” to perform this work for them. In that case, you will still need to ensure that your agent carries out the obligations that you ultimately have.

The deadline for those who must submit a stewardship plan has already passed and the Ministry of Environment expects those who have submitted plans to start executing them starting on 19 May 2014.