Authority’s Registrar releases results of inspection into whether Ontario Electronic Stewardship misused trust funds

The Authority’s Registrar Pat Moran issued a communique to all Ontario municipalities outlining the results of a recent inspection undertaken by the Authority of Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES) and Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) activities related to the wind up of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Program.

The Authority’s inspection found evidence that OES-dedicated EPRA staff engaged in activities aimed at advancing EPRA’s commercial interests in the new competitive marketplace established under the Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) Regulation, in contravention of the conflict-of-interest measures included in the OES Wind-Up Plan. These activities are also prohibited under s. 35 of the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016, which requires funds held in trust by OES are to be used only for the purposes of delivering and winding up the WEEE Program. Additionally, s. 2 of the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 requires the Authority to promote competition in the provision of resource recovery services in order to achieve the Provincial Interests in reducing waste and litter, spurring innovation through competition in the waste management and resource recovery sectors, and advancing Ontario’s circular economy.

As a result of the Authority’s inspection findings, OES has agreed to cease using the trust fund to support activities promoting EPRA’s commercial interests and has taken the following additional steps:

  • The OES Program Wind-Up Oversight Manager has written to OES-dedicated staff to formally remind them:
    • “to adhere to the conflict of interest requirements as reviewed together previously”,
    • to ensure that they “are not communicating with OES Program participants regarding EPRA’s future role in the new program under the EEE Regulations”, and
    • “if a program participant inquires about the transition…to refer that person to RPRA, or RPRA’s website, and not to EPRA”.
  • The OES Board Chair has written to EPRA to:
    • remind EPRA of “the conflict of interest requirements outlined within the OES Wind-Up Plan”, and
    • “request that EPRA ensures that non-OES dedicated employees will not engage with OES-dedicated employees for any purpose other than the administration of the OES Program and related OES Program Wind-Up requirements”.
  • The OES Program Wind-Up Oversight Manager has confirmed expenses incurred for the retention of counsel on this matter will not be reimbursed from the OES trust fund.

As the provincial regulator mandated to enforce the requirements of Ontario’s circular economy regulatory framework, the Authority is committed to ensuring a level playing field for all market participants and will continue to monitor the marketplace for anti-competitive activities and will take immediate steps to ensure compliance with all legislated requirements.

Read the full letter.