Over the past year, some stewards and/or their consultants have expressed dissatisfaction with the Adjustment Policy administered by CSSA on behalf of Stewardship Ontario, Recycle BC (formerly MMBC), MMSW and MMSM. The Boards of Stewardship Ontario, Recycle BC, MMSW (the “Boards”) have recently considered and affirmed their ongoing commitment to the Adjustment Policy. This communique summarizes steward concerns and the Boards’ responses.
The policy governs the conditions under which stewards may request adjustments to their material reports and receive credits or pay debits for past errors. It is designed to mitigate the negative impact of credit adjustments on the steward community as a whole, by capping the allowable retroactive adjustment period to two years following the May 31 submission deadline for that report. It is based on the principle that, in order to credit one steward for an error in the past, all stewards must contribute to reimbursing that steward for the error. The ability of a steward to seek reimbursement/adjustment for prior errors must be reasonably circumscribed to protect other stewards from accumulating open-ended liabilities far into the past.
Each of the concerns, together with the Boards’ response, is addressed below.
1. Two-Year Adjustment Limit
Some stewards have raised a concern that the two-year limit on adjustment requests is too short and should be extended to a longer period of time.
Response: The two-year adjustment limit has been in place since:
- 2005 in Ontario, when the Stewardship Ontario Board approved a refiling/adjustment policy;
- Recycle BC stewards began submitting their reports in 2013;
- MMSW stewards began submitting their reports in 2014;
- MMSM Board affirmed the policy in 2015.
The Boards concluded that the two-year adjustment period reflects a reasonable and commercially appropriate compromise between the interests of individual stewards who may wish to correct errors in prior reports and protection of each program and their collective steward membership from unrestricted liabilities.
Some stewards suggest that the Adjustment Policy cannot be applied to adjustment requests that predate March 2016, when the policy was posted on the CSSA website.Response: The Adjustment Policy did not come into effect on March 2016. It has been in place and applied by each program since the dates noted above.3. Limitations on the Number of Adjustments
Once a steward’s report has been adjusted, the steward cannot request another adjustment on that same report. Some stewards disagree with this feature of the policy.Response: The prohibition on “adjustments on adjustments” protects the steward community from unnecessary administrative and cost burdens associated with multiple requests by stewards to correct the same report, and reflects a reasonable balance between the rights of individual stewards and protection of the collective from unrestricted liabilities.
4. Third Party Review Requirement for Large Adjustments
Some stewards have raised a concern that they may be required to pay for a third-party review for large or complex adjustment requests, and have suggested that the program should bear this cost.
Response: The Boards have concluded that it is fair and reasonable to submit large and complex adjustments to third-party review and that the expense associated with a third-party review should be borne by the steward requesting the adjustment, rather than by the program which would impose the expense on all stewards.
5. Application of Credits and Debits
When an adjustment is completed, the policy states that stewards must pay the program within 30 days, but credits are not available to stewards until the following year. Some stewards have expressed dissatisfaction with this approach and want the credit immediately applied.
Response: The Boards agreed that this is a legitimate concern and the policy will be clarified to reflect that a credit will be immediately applied to a steward’s program-specific account so that it is available to the steward to access the credit against the next program invoice. Debits will continue to be due 30 days after the invoice is issued.
Adjustment Policy and Request Guidance
The Adjustment Policy is available here. Appendix A to the policy sets out instructions on how to request an adjustment. Stewards wishing to submit a request for adjustment should fill out the Steward Adjustment Request Form and submit it to email@example.com. An initial review of the request will be completed within two weeks of receipt.
If you have any questions, please contact National Steward Services at 1-888-980-9549 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
 The MMSM Board affirmed the policy in 2015.