Franchisors and franchisees in Ontario may have been contacted by Stewardship Ontario about registering as a “steward” under Ontario’s Waste Diversion Act. Stewardship Ontario ensures that companies introducing packaging and printed paper into the Ontario marketplace share in the funding of recycling programs.
Thousands of companies that produce or distribute packaged goods and printed paper for sale in Ontario are required to pay fees to offset the cost of the Ontario Blue Box program.
Since the program was introduced in 2002, Stewardship Ontario has notified various organizations which it believes are required, as “stewards”, to make payments on their generated waste. However, even if you have not been not notified, you are obligated to voluntarily register if you are resident in Ontario and your annual revenue and the amount of waste generated meet certain criteria. Penalties, however, are imposed only if you have not registered 90 days after being notified. Franchisors are actually specifically named as Stewards under the Blue Box Rules.
If the annual revenue of the entire franchise system in Ontario (i.e. that of the franchisor and the franchisees combined) is greater than $2 million, the franchisor is required to register as a Steward and is obligated to report packaging and printed paper generated in Ontario by all of its franchisees. However, if the franchisor is not resident in Ontario, its franchisees may be designated as Stewards and may be required to register and comply with the Blue Box Rules.
Stewardship fees are determined based upon the tonnage and type of waste generated, and in the case of a franchise system, is the combined total of the packaging and printed paper waste generated by the whole system.
Franchisors obligated as Stewards may choose to pay these fees themselves or can require each franchisee to contribute a portion of the fees to be paid under the Blue Box program, so franchisees should be aware of this potential added cost for joining the system.