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Communications Guiding Principles and Policy

Stewardship Ontario is a not-for-profit, industry-funded organization that operates Ontario’s Blue Box and Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste programs on behalf of industry stewards pursuant to the Waste Diversion Transition Act. In addition to provincial legislation and regulations, its mandate and activities are prescribed in its approved program plans and operating agreements with the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority.  As a regulated entity, Stewardship Ontario must conduct its communication and stakeholder consultation activities in the manner specified in its governance frameworks. This policy sets out the guiding principles and processes by which Stewardship Ontario carries out its mandate on an annual basis.

Communications Guiding Principles

The following principles are designed to outline Stewardship Ontario’s approach to communications with its stakeholders. The principles reflect that Stewardship Ontario, as an industry funding organization governed by the Waste Diversion Transition Act, is required to communicate with prescribed audiences about prescribed subjects. Secondly, they reflect Stewardship Ontario’s objective to be engaged with all stakeholders, but particularly with our stewards and regulators.

  1. Provide stakeholders with accurate, clear and timely information. Stewardship Ontario has a duty to all stakeholders, but its priority is to ensure that our stewards are in compliance with the law and our communications with stewards are designed to assist them in carrying out their legal responsibilities as required by statute, program plans and agreements, and Rules for Stewards.  Stewardship Ontario strives to provide our stewards with the guidance and tools they need to understand and carry out their reporting and payment obligations for each program. We are committed to plain language to ensure our communications are easy to understand and useful.
  2. Be accountable in communications with stakeholders. Stewardship Ontario has a responsibility to ensure that our many stakeholders, but particularly our regulators and our stewards, are aware of how the programs are performing in compliance with statute and our program plans.  Regular disclosure of consistent and accurate environmental and financial information to stakeholders both on a quarterly (MHSW) and an annual basis (Blue Box and MHSW Programs) is an imperative.
  3. Regularly consult with stakeholders on program related initiatives in a manner that builds trust and fosters two-way communication. Stewardship Ontario, in keeping with its Blue Box and MHSW Program Plans is committed to facilitating stakeholder consultation that is open, accessible and responsive to feedback.  Using a variety of consultation engagement methods (e.g., committees, webcasts, surveys and discussion papers, national call centre) Stewardship Ontario actively solicits feedback from its stewards, as well as other stakeholder groups.

Communications Policy

Commitment Statement

Stewardship Ontario is committed to continuous enhancement of communications by striving to meet the evolving communications needs of its stakeholders. Guided by regulations, program plans and program rules, Stewardship Ontario will ensure information is communicated in a clear, consistent and timely manner by designated individuals through effective, targeted channels and which encourage two-way communication.

Objective

The objective of this policy is to ensure that communication with stakeholders is well coordinated, effectively managed and responsive to their diverse needs, with the goal that stakeholders are informed and consulted on Stewardship Ontario’s activities and operations. To achieve this Stewardship Ontario will:

  • Ensure that information is disclosed in a manner that is timely, consistent and appropriate to the needs of the stewards to help them understand and fulfill their legal obligations
  • Demonstrate accountability to stakeholders with regular disclosure of information about performance and finances to demonstrate that Stewardship Ontario is committed to maintaining a high-level of environmental and financial responsibility
  • Regularly consult and provide opportunities for feedback to ensure that the process matches the needs of stakeholders
  • Provide service that is responsive to inquiries from stewards and other stakeholders.

Scope

This policy applies to Stewardship Ontario’s communications with all of its stakeholders, and includes:

  • Mandatory communications which are prescribed by the Waste Diversion Transition Act, the Blue Box Program Plan and Program Agreement, the MHSW Program Plan and Program Agreement, and Rules for Stewards.
  • Discretionary communications to ensure that interested groups, e.g., industry associations, media, are kept to up to date with issues which are relevant to them.

This policy applies to Stewardship Ontario’s Board and staff that have communications responsibilities as outlined in this policy.

Definitions

BB – Blue Box Program: Communications vehicles/channels – The method by which Stewardship Ontario shares information or messages to particular audiences.

MHSW: Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste Program

MECP: Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks

Stakeholders: Organizations and individuals considered to have a genuine interest in Stewardship Ontario’s activities and progress, some of whom SO is mandated to communicate specific information, including stewards, industry organizations, regulators, consumers, media and special interest groups.

WDAWaste Diversion Act – An Ontario Act to promote the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste and to provide for the development, implementation and operation of waste diversion programs. (Now replaced by the Resource Recovery and Circular Econony Act (RRCEA) and the Waste Diversion Transition Act (WDTA).

RPRA:Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (the Authority) (formerly Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO))

Roles & Responsibilities

The communications function is overseen by the Stewardship Ontario Board of Directors and carried out by the Communications team.  In its goverance role, the Stewardship Ontario Board reviews and approves strategies, plans and key publications such as the annual report. The communications team oversees implementation of communications and stakeholder engagement initiatives for Stewardship Ontario.

Communications Vehicles/Channels

Stewardship Ontario regularly uses the following mechanisms to communicate with stakeholders and solicit feedback:

Email – Targeted broadcast emails sent to stakeholders to provide information that is relevant to the audience. The content is developed and distributed by communications staff in consultation with Stewardship Ontario senior staff.

Webinars – Broadcasts, primarily targeting stewards, used to provide reporting guidance and notification of changes to the Rules for Stewards

Stakeholder Meetings – The communications team participate in frequent meetings with relevant stakeholders to provide support, share information about current projects and issues and to gather feedback on services.  Regular contact with stewards via a variety of means and channels is part of Stewardship Ontario’s service delivery.  Key forums that foster stakeholder feedback include:

  • Industry Advisory Committee (IAC) a group of industry associations representing Stewardship Ontario’s steward community, which meets on a quarterly basis, or more often if needed for special projects
  • Annual Steward Meeting – Held in the fourth quarter of each year, this meeting updates stewards on program performance (environmental and financial) as well as provides the budget and fee schedule for the upcoming year.

Websitestewardshipontario.ca provides stakeholders with comprehensive information about the Blue Box and MHSW program. All information which is shared via broadcast email is posted on the Stewardship Ontario website to allow ongoing, easy access to important updates.

Social Media (Twitter) – @InnovationGreen is a consumer-focused vehicle providing recycling guidance messages and allowing consumers to communicate with Stewardship Ontario. The content for the account is managed by communications staff, who obtain input and approval from subject experts as needed.

Media relations – Stewardship Ontario promotes openness and a commitment to the dissemination  of timely and accurate information via media outlets. Communications staff are responsible for  issuing news releases and coordinating responses to inquiries from journalists in a prompt and comprehensive manner.

Stakeholders

The following section identifies Stewardship Ontario’s key stakeholder groups and their top areas of interest.

Stewards

  • Guidance and tools for preparing their annual material reports
  • Program performance (environmental and financial)
  • Stewardship fees
  • Changes to Program Rules, policies
  • Legislative Updates and changes in regulatory requirements

Regulator and MECP officials

  • Quarterly and annual program performance reports

Ontario Residents

  • Promotion and Education campaigns designed to improve recycling amongst Ontario residents

Industry associations (representing steward groups as well as packaging materials)

  • Program performance (environmental and financial)
  • Stewardship fees
  • Changes to Program Rules, policies
  • Legislative Updates and changes in regulatory requirements

Media (including print/broadcast/digital platforms)

  • Performance metrics of the Blue Program and the MHSW Program Clarification/correction on recycling issues and Stewardship Ontario’s role in the provincial recycling system

Municipalities and Supply Chain Partners (MHSW)

  • Contract renewals and amendments
  • Updates to standards
  • Changes to incentive programs

Issues/Crisis management

Stewardship Ontario monitors areas of risk to its programs and develops plans to address issues in collaboration with SO’s Board Chair and Directors as needed.  Stewardship Ontario’s Board Chair acts as spokesperson for the organization in the event of a crisis.

Review and Approval

The communications team is accountable for the administration of this policy. The policy is reviewed each year by the SO Board of Directors and is updated by the communications team  as appropriate.


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