Here & Now: OTS, Planning for the Future

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While it’s clear that the Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS) is on its way out, we’re still not sure what will replace it.

When news about the end of the Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS) program first got out, stakeholders wondered what the future would hold. What would replace the OTS? Who would be in charge? When would the new recycling program be in place? How would the change impact everyone involved?

On February 17, 2017, Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, sent a letter to OTS, directing them to submit a plan to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority by October 31, 2017 on how they intend to wind up the program. This plan requires the cessation of operations by December 31, 2018.

“The wind-up plan must provide transparent and clear communications to the public and affected stakeholders,” Murray explained. “It must also deal with assets, liabilities, rights and obligations in a fair, open and transparent process. Additionally, it must also avoid disruption in the operation of the Used Tires Program and not adversely affect Ontario’s tire marketplace.”

Clear deadlines
The letter provides clear timelines. On December 31, 2018, the obligation of OTS to be responsible for used tires in the Ontario market will end. On January 1, 2019 the producers will assume direct responsibility for used tires in Ontario, and they’ll be able to do that on their own, or through a collective, known as a PRO (Producer Responsibility Organization).

Who will be the PRO? Who will replace OTS? “Right now, we don’t know,” says Andrew Horsman, Executive Director, OTS. “The letter was written recently, and in the absence of certainty about what was coming, the producers were not going to expend a lot of energy and effort to set up something new. Now that the letter has been written, it will prompt producers to start getting more engaged.”

Horsman says tire manufacturers, under TRAC (Tire and Rubber Association of Canada), have already started that process. “Glen Maidment is the President of TRAC, as well as the Chairman of OTS,” Horsman adds, “so he has a deep understanding of the situation. He’s been working with his members to start getting ready for this eventual transition.” Maidment says that this will be an opportunity for the industry to provide feedback to the government about what the industry would like to see as a replacement for the OTS.

“I’m hopeful the government will appreciate and accept what the stakeholders are saying and try to give them what they want,” he adds. “While the OTS wind-up is important, the most important thing we have to keep our eyes on is what’s going to happen after the OTS. How do we collectively, as an industry, keep all the good things the OTS has achieved, and transition to something else?”

New rules
“The piece that is still missing, the piece the Ministry hasn’t given us a hard timeline on, is when they will issue the regulation which essentially designates tires under the new act,” Horsman explains. “That regulation is going to spell out the rules for who’s obligated to run the program? Who’s obligated to provide reporting? Who’s obligated to make sure recycling happens?

“We’re hoping the government provides clarity sooner rather than later so that as we’re preparing our wind-up plan, we’ve got the producers on the other side who understand their obligations. We’ve also made it clear to the Ministry that creating a wind-up plan, in the absence of clarity about what’s coming next, is going to create additional stress. We hope that’s something that can be avoided.”

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