Winding Up 2019

Happy #WasteWarriorWednesday !

Its the last full work week of 2019 and business operations are in full swing to close sales and push products out before some of the biggest shopping days of the year.

Sustainability targets are often forgotten in this flurry of activity. This blog post serves as a friendly reminder to track the supply of your packaging materials into regulated stewardship provinces.

Gift-wrap and extra packaging can heavily increase your reportable tonnage. Blue box (packaging and printed paper) reports are due in Q2 of 2020 for BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. New Brunswick will be developing its new program in 2020. Steward Wise is developing an in-person course on how-to report to blue box stewardship programs. Learn more and register here for early bird specials.

Stewardship Ontario has been busy in 2019, working with stakeholders on a mediation for the Blue Box Wind-Up and developing The Municipal Hazardous & Special Waste Wind-Up Plan.

Funny story, my father thinks wind-up is a terrible term. He read it out loud to me as “wind” – up, as in, blowing wind.. While some waste warriors can certainly be filled with hot air, that’s not what wind-up means, or how its pronounced. Its pronounced as /ˈwīndˌəp/ and is defined by Google/Oxford as “an act of concluding or finishing something.”

In a nut shell, a wind-up is the careful dismantling of Ontario’s regulation that appoints one major recycling system administrator. Since around 2002, that administrator has been Stewardship Ontario for blue box and household hazardous wastes. In the future, Ontario will operate like some European countries and allow recycling businesses and other organizations to compete for industry members. Generally speaking, the services they will offer is the collection, transportation, treatment, reuse, recycling and disposal of the regulated materials and products that you sell. These businesses are called “producer responsibility organizations,” or PROs, for short.

This fall, the new Ontario Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority was blazing trails all over the province engaging with hazardous waste stakeholders on how these changes will affect industry, municipalities, citizens, recycling businesses and more. The Authority launched their registry in late 2018, operating it in full swing in 2019 for the tire recycling program launch. In the fall, the Authority presented on Individual Producer Responsibility, a compliance option that allows for Ontarian businesses to comply with new regulations without working with a PRO.

The Authority also approved the wind-up plan for Ontario Electronic Stewardship in 2019. OES has ceased charging environmental handling fees to their members, due to a taxation ruling by the CRA that refunded the organization a whole “tonne” of cash. OES is using that cash to fund its continued operations until its final day, about one year from now, December 31, 2020. Until then, the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks has got their hands full drafting (and redrafting?) the proposed Electronics, Electrical Equipment and Battery regulations under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016. PROs, industry members, recycling companies, municipalities and citizens have had an eventful consultation period.

Alas, now 2019 is drawing to a close. We can all reflect on our wins and losses for the year, the ups and downs. Maybe you had a change of job and my jargon is all new to you. Maybe you are a young professional in sustainability and can’t be more excited to change the world. Maybe you are a hardened executive just looking to define your legacy in the world. Maybe you are a civil servant. Whomever you are reading this, I do hope you can return to work in 2020 with a positive attitude and a refreshed mindset. 2020 is the start of not only a new year, but a new decade.

What will you have accomplished by 2030?


Canadian Packaging Stewardship – Course Outline

Packaging stewardship reporting in Canada is complex. Each province has its own unique rules, reportable packaging materials and recommended reporting methods. Securing accurate packaging type and weight data from suppliers is challenging. At year-end, if you have only collected a sample set of qualified data, your staff must have strong statistical skills in order to finalize reports.

I’ve done all the of the above, so I’ve partnered with CGC Educational Communications in order to deliver best-in-class training on blue box reporting.

Course Delivery:

This course, designed by CGC Educational Communications, is delivered in a scenario-based education style. Participants will have the opportunity to learn by working through business cases in a group and peer-to-peer. Formal presentations are kept to a minimum and participants are sent home with a step-by-step Reporting and Audit Preparation Guide.

Options for course customization are available, for example, do you want to cross train multiple people in your business? We can come to you.

I’m Back!

If you know me and my company, Steward Wise, you might be wondering, what the heck happened to Andrea?

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from the usual circuits of the Canadian recycling & stewardship world. (In fact, Ontarians don’t even call it stewardship anymore, but that’s another blog post…)

So what have I been up to? Lots of things! I went to Australia and spoke at the International Stewardship Conference in 2018. I took a job at Walmart Canada. I left that job, and opted to take a break.  I worked at a garden center. I traveled to the Netherlands. I grew my own cut-flower garden, from seed, might I add.

In fact, I’m calling it the gardening sabbatical. Or my mini-retirement.  We all need a break sometimes.

It has been an incredibly refreshing six months. I’ve learned a lot about myself, entrepreneurship, patience, and yes, perennials too.

I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has helped me along the way or given me the opportunity to work with you.

Let’s keep the journey going.

– A



On your mark, get set, go!

I’m starting a vegetable garden! Tried my best to pick mostly heritage seeds. These are seeds that have been passed down generation after generation of plant, completely GMO free and perfectly adapted to the climate where I live. Food for thought!

Pictured above, photo evidence I’ve taken step one and planted some seeds. Left: Zucchini and Butternut Squash (both heritage seeds). Right: Basil!

Yum. Also on the go, just germinating as we speak, Sweet Red Peppers (heritage seed!), Jalapenos (GMO-free seed!), Purple Cone flowers (not a vegetable but good for pollinators), and Eggplant (heritage seed!).

I’m also planning climbing cucumber, snap peas, and green beans (scarlet runner variety – heritage seed!). I have a 7′ X 13′ plot where I will be planting artichoke, carrots, grand rapids lettuce (heritage seed!), prize head lettuce (heritage seed!), arugula, spinach (heritage seed!), cilantro, garlic and sweet corn.

For pollinators, my backyard is FULL of lilies, but I’m also going to plant some nasturtiums. Beautiful edible flowers, perfect for adding to a summer salad.

A note on growing your own garlic – you’re supposed to plant in September for germination over the winter. However, Canadian Tire has a bunch of bagged garlic available right now, so I thought, screw the rules, let’s see how it goes! Considering the snowfall southern Ontario had last week, and the predicted snow fall we are going to have on Monday, I’m hoping my little garlics will do just fine. I didn’t check the weather and planted them the weekend before the last snow. I thought this would kill them, but I checked today and there are some delicious little garlicy buds popping up already.

I’m excited to eat fresh garlic, yes, but MORE excited to eat garlic scapes. You would never see them in grocery stores, but they have the most delicious and delicate garlic flavour. Great when sauteed with some butter. I had the opportunity to try some from my friend’s farm last summer, and my mouth has been watering ever since.

Garlic is apparently really easy to grow, but I’m worried about my artichoke. Very temperamental things, apparently. I dumped it out today because there hasn’t been a bud in two weeks, but lo-and-behold, the seed was sprouting! I quickly repotted and watered. Their roots don’t like being disturbed, so I hope it will continue to grow.

It will also be interesting to see how the corn does. I’m only going to plant about six – seven… I read in 1001 Weird Facts for Canadian Gardeners that squash, corn and beans grow exceptionally well together, and were dubbed “The Three Sisters” by early Canadian settlers. All three are heritage seeds, but I didn’t find heritage corn at Terra. Regardless, planting the three together keep the soil pH well balanced upon rotation each season. Gotta keep your soil healthy as well, apparently. I’m a first time gardener so this was interesting to me. I never thought about soil pH or content before. Bought a soil testing kit and everything. My cousin’s partner, a botanist, told me to not worry and just buy some top soil and till it in with the earth in my plot. Probably will do the test anyways just out of curiosity.

That’s all for now! I will update as my little seeds begin to grow into seedlings! Eeee!

Defining Sustainability


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In my professional life I am an environmental (associate) specialist. I graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Sustainability in 2012.

In the media and in the business world, “sustainability” is often shrugged off as a buzzword. You often hear people ask “What does sustainability even mean, anyway?” This is why I’ve come prepared.

I’ve come to my own conclusion and definition of “sustainability”.

“Working and living to ensure the future health of the global natural environment.”

However, the word “sustainability” is problematic. A lot of people will role their eyes if I tell them I graduated with a degree or a specialized BBA in Sustainability. I don’t condemn them for it.

After all, in the world of capitalism, what does “environmental sustainability” have to do with business?

Secondly,  “sustainability” can be defined so many ways. For example, I got an email just yesterday that used the word, but in a completely different way from above. The email alluded to the other definition of sustainability in business – ensuring financial stability and success into the foreseeable future.

These two concepts, sustainability of the environment, and sustainability of a business, can be tied together in my second (and favourite) definition of Sustainability:

“Operating a business to ensure future financial stability and success, while concurrently ensuring that the business contributes to the future health of the global natural environment.”

I truly believe that successful businesses can integrate sustainability into their operations, or even business models. It may be hogwash to some, but I have studied multiple business cases in which the company has successfully grown their revenues and profits while actively minimizing their environmental impact.

I try to bring this to light at my work place, but it is tough when middle management is bogged down by the work of their immediate business goals. Protecting the environment is extra work, and takes a re-jigging of the business model or the way things operate, and it can take substantial amounts of time and thought to figure it out. But it can also produce unexpected and positive business results. To see an example, check out the Interface story, a very interesting case study in sustainable business models here:

That’s all for now – How do you define sustainability?