OES responds to Sims, clarifies position
By Henry Leineweber, Resource Recycling
In the week since Sims Recycling Solutions accused Ontario Electronic Stewardship of neglecting environmental standards in favor of lower-cost processors, OES has sought to clarify its role, its relationship with Sims and the broader efforts to harmonize e-scrap programs across Canada.
"Sims is and remains a valued partner of OES – in fact, on Monday last week I met with [Sims Recycling Solutions Canada president] Cindy Coutts, and toured the Sims facilities," said OES executive director Jonathan Spencer, reaffirming the close working relationship between the province's largest e-scrap processor and the non-profit multi-stakeholder stewardship organization.
The disagreement over whether OES was allocating material based on environmental record or price became public following a recent story in the Globe and Mail . Sims argued that by allowing some processors to use older standards, OES is giving an unfair advantage to processors in the province that have not yet invested the time and money necessary to conform to more rigorous environmental health and safety (EH&S) standards.
Spencer disagrees. "The processing of WEEE in Ontario in a sound environmental manner is, and continues to be, the top priority," said Spencer, speaking to E-Scrap News. "All processors have always been required to meet Ontario's enhanced electronics recycling standard. In April 2011, in the interest of national harmonization, Ontario agreed to adopt the national Recycler Qualification Program (RQP) standard. Rolling out the RQP assessment process took more time than was expected. Given that fact, in order not to delay the award of allocations under the RFP any further, OES, with the knowledge of Waste Diversion Ontario, determined that it was appropriate to re-allocate WEEE on April 1, 2012. In early March, OES notified processors that it would award new allocations under the RFP. All processors we ship allocation to under the RFP meet the RQP standard."
The dust-up between OES and Sims calls attention to the ongoing challenge of cross-province e-scrap recycling in Canada. Canada's system of government requires provinces to take the lead on some issues, such as electronics recycling and as a result, most Canadian provinces have independently developed stewardship programs. In order to streamline compliance requirements, many provinces continue to work to harmonize their independent programs as best they can.
As an industry-led organization that includes OEMs and retailers, OES has a strong incentive to harmonize its standards and programs with the other provinces, which resulted in the decision to move from Ontario's independently developed EH&S standard for processors, to one already adopted by other provinces' producer responsibility programs.
Sources at both OES and WDO say the province's EPR program is still on track to transition to the harmonized standard, even if it is taking longer than expected.