The Evolution of Reclay StewardEdge

From our inception, Reclay StewardEdge has been at the forefront of product and packaging stewardship. Through our dedication to the advancement of recycling and finding innovative approaches to minimize and manage waste, we have established relationships with clients around the world and now have offices across North America and in Europe to bring a truly global approach to the work we do. To discover more about our evolution over the past four decades, click on our corporate history timeline.

Ontario’s First Multi-Material Program is Established

In 1974, Jack McGinnis established the Is Five Foundation and hired our President, Derek Stephenson. This organization established Project One Recycling, a company that established the first formal curbside recycling program, which served 80,000 households in the Toronto Beaches area.

Resource Integration Systems (RIS) is Incorporated

In 1976, Derek and Jack formed a consulting business to support the not-for-profit activities of Is Five Foundation and to serve as a vehicle to transfer their skills in recycling and behavior change to other communities.

New Innovation Tested

In 1977, RIS with Derek serving as the President of the company, designed, implemented and operated an innovative source separation recycling program at Canadian Forces Base Borden on behalf of Environment Canada. This provided the first opportunity to test a new innovation – providing households with a hand-assembled container for storing and setting out their recyclables.

The Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) is Formed

In 1978, the Is Five Foundation coordinated a meeting of a variety of stakeholders interested in advocating for waste reduction and recycling as essential components of modern waste management practices. Out of this meeting, the Recycling Council of Ontario was formed and is still a driving force in the province for advancing waste reduction and product stewardship.

The Blue Box Story

In 1981, RIS designed a comprehensive pilot to identify the most effective approach to multi-material curbside collection in Kitchener, Ontario. Of the four approaches tested, providing each household with a blue box boldly stamped “We Recycle” proved most effective. Building on this initial success, and with strong support from a rising Canadian waste management company Laidlaw Waste Systems, RIS was retained to implement the Blue Box program in Mississauga, Essex-Windsor, Ottawa and other communities across the province.

Ontario Multi-Material Recycling Inc. (OMMRI)

In 1986, RIS was retained by a coalition of beverage companies and their packaging and material suppliers, to design a strategy to accelerate the adoption of the Blue Box program across Ontario. OMMRI was formed to serve as the vehicle through which the industry provided technical support and one third of the capital cost of implementing Blue Box programs across the province. The Ontario Ministry of Environment responded by implementing regulations requiring all towns and cities greater than 5,000 people to implement Blue Box programs and by providing additional capital and operating support. RCO continued to play a strong advocacy role with municipalities.

The UN recognized the success of this public/private partnership by presenting an environmental stewardship award jointly to OMMRI, RCO and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).

International Growth

Over the next ten years, recognized as leaders in the development of successful municipal recycling programs RIS grew rapidly establishing offices in Toronto, Hartford, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Portland, Los Angeles, Brussels, Belgium and London, England through which they supported the development of recycling programs throughout North America and internationally. Successes included the first multi-material curbside collection programs in the USA to include PET and other plastic packaging; design and technical support for state-wide recycling implementation and market development programs; industry led packaging recycling demonstration programs in Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, UK and Turkey; and technical and training support for national recycling programs in Belgium and France.

Corporations Supporting Recycling (CSR)

RIS was retained to help broaden industry support for expanded recycling. In 1996, CSR was formed by leading consumer products companies and retailers to work with municipalities across Canada to improve recycling program performance, develop stronger markets for recovered materials, promote wider citizen participation and to advocate for a level playing field for industry. Derek Stephenson subsequently left RIS to serve as Senior Vice President of CSR.

Ontario Waste Diversion Act

In 1999, The Ministry of Environment formed the interim Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) through a memorandum of understanding with CSR, AMO and RCO to undertake a comprehensive review of opportunities to increase recycling and to advise the government on the development of legislation. CSR was appointed to serve as the secretariat to WDO and Derek Stephenson served as the interim WDO Program Manager. The key outcome of this process was the enactment of the Ontario Waste Diversion Act (WDA). This legislation empowered the Minister of Environment to designate any type of waste material and require that the producers of the products which become waste to develop a province-wide program to divert these materials from disposal.

Producer Responsibility Organization Europe (PRO Europe)

In 2001, CSR was invited to join PRO Europe, the organization now representing 34 national recycling programs. This association rapidly accelerated the international exchange of recycling best practices and CSR staff became part of a powerful global network of leading product stewardship practitioners.

Stewardship Ontario and the Blue Box Program Plan

In response to the Minister of Environment designating all household packaging and printed paper under the WDA, leading consumer products companies and retailers established Stewardship Ontario as the vehicle to discharge their legal obligations under the Act. CSR was retained to design, implement and operate a province-wide recycling program for Blue Box Waste on behalf of Stewardship Ontario and Derek Stephenson was appointed the Program Manager. In 2002, the Blue Box Program Plan was the first stewardship program approved under the WDA. Similar Blue Box programs were subsequently established in Quebec and Manitoba with the support of CSR. With independent, provincial Blue Box stewardship organizations now in place in three provinces and municipal recycling programs common practice across Canada; CSR was wound up in 2008.

StewardEdge Inc. is Formed

In 2009, Derek Stephenson and the senior staff of CSR formed StewardEdge to apply their acquired skills and accumulated years of experience internationally to the management of a wider range of used products. To date this has included the design, implementation and management of comprehensive stewardship programs for waste electrical & electronic equipment (WEEE); and municipal hazardous and special wastes; packaging and printed paper from households; and the recovery of used beverage containers generated away from home.

A Widening Practice and International Expansion

In 2010 StewardEdge expanded its service offering to provide strategic, technical and training support to improve recycling performance around the world; to address other difficult to manage wastes; and to support our client’s broader sustainability needs.

Back in the USA

In 2011, we established a US office to help leading companies and associations develop sustainable solutions for used packaging and products.

Joining the Reclay Group

In 2012, StewardEdge joined the Reclay Group to strengthen our ability to support our clients internationally with a wider range of programs and services.