The policy of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs is here to stay in Canada, and is largely accepted by industry as a means of sharing in the cost of managing product and packaging end-of-life diversion programs.

Besides the actual fees paid to the stewardship agencies, there are numerous ‘hidden’ costs to companies including staff for:

  • Pulling data together,
  • Addressing information gaps (e.g. new products, mergers and acquisitions, etc.)
  • Preparing reports (internal and external),
  • Submitting reports (tougher than you would think! – some large retailers in Canada have obligations in 40 to 60 provincial stewardship programs),
  • Responding to questions – again internal and external,
  • Staff training required as a result of turnover within companies – making it challenging for companies to have continuity and to keep on top of the complex stewardship programs, and
  • If you are a significantly sized steward, audits from the PROs/agencies to deal with.

Companies are becoming fatigued with the stewardship programs and are looking for options to reduce administrative time and costs. They want to better utilize and redirect valuable staff time.  This is often the case for small and mid-sized companies that do not have the staff resources to dedicate to these tasks that are sometimes tedious while at other times requires skill and expertise to ensure compliance and reduce costs.

Historically, stewardship issues fell under the responsibility of corporate affairs or corporate compliance, some even under operations.  Now, most companies treat stewardship reporting as an indirect tax and reporting responsibility that falls to the accounting or finance department. Unfortunately, the accounting/finance departments have little or no understanding of what the costs represent, how to lower them, or the time to deal with it.

The other option that companies are using is to outsource the stewardship reporting. This offloads the responsibility from staff that do not have the time, interest, and sometimes knowledge of the stewardship programs.  Firms are finding it less expensive and the expertise that specialists can bring helps to improve the quality of the reporting – ensuring companies are fully compliant, and also helping to identify opportunities for improved efficiencies, and cost savings from applied analytics.

RSE provides services including; optimization to reduce steward costs, ensure compliance, and reporting assistance and services tailored to our customers’ needs.

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Photo source: istock