Please note that effective September 15, 2022, Circular Materials acquired the operations of the Resource Recovery Alliance.

As we transition, updates will be provided.  In the meantime, the reporting resources posted on this website are still available and are in the process of being redirected to the Circular Materials website.  If you have any questions, please contact us at

National Voluntary Steward Policy

In our efforts to bring further harmonization to packaging and printed paper stewardship programs, a Voluntary Steward Policy has been developed for stewardship programs in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.


What is a voluntary steward?

A voluntary steward is a non-resident brand owner who supplies packaging and/or printed paper into a regulated jurisdiction and has elected to assume responsibility for its material. A business’ residency status is a core determinant of whether or not it is obligated by a province’s stewardship regulation.  In the absence of a resident brand owner, the legal obligation falls to the “first importer” – typically the retailer or distributor that has residency in the province.
Voluntary stewards relieve the resident retailer/distributor of having to report and pay stewardship fees on their brands; it is a concept that is unique to Canada and widely supported by retailers as well as brand owners that want to be recognized by their retail customers and consumers for recycling their post-consumer waste.

Key Features of the New Voluntary Steward Policy

The objective is to provide a policy that clarifies which businesses are eligible to be a voluntary steward and contains a harmonized set of standards/requirements that must be met.

Key features of the policy include:

  1. Clear definition of a voluntary steward:
    1. Not resident in the provincial jurisdiction for which it is applying for voluntary steward status;
    2. Must be a resident in Canada;
    3. Supplies material equal to or greater than the de minimis tonnage threshold for each program (i.e., 15 tonnes in Ontario, 1 tonne in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba).
  2. Voluntary steward agreement clearly sets out the obligations of the voluntary steward:
    1. Voluntary steward assumes responsibility for all brands it supplies into the provincial jurisdiction;
    2. Voluntary steward provides a list of its brand names for which it owns or has the exclusive licensing agreement for, and that it supplies into the provincial jurisdiction in which it is not resident;
    3. Voluntary steward provides a list of names of all its first importer customers (retailers) in the jurisdiction for which it agrees to assume responsibility. (Voluntary stewards are not allowed to volunteer for some retailers and not others);
    4. Voluntary steward notifies each of its listed customers that they are not obligated to report on the brands for which the voluntary steward is now taking responsibility.

Please Note: Any existing stewards who were grandfathered under the new policy who have not yet completed a Voluntary Steward Agreement are now required to complete the appropriate agreements as soon as possible.

  1. A voluntary steward must enter into an agreement with each stewardship program for which it intends to assume a voluntary obligation. 

The agreement specifies that the stewardship obligation reverts back to the first importers (retailers or distributors) listed in the agreement in the event that the voluntary steward defaults on any of their reporting or payment obligations for the material supplied in that provincial jurisdiction. This provision protects the stewardship program from having to assume the liability for the uncollected receivables of voluntary stewards, the cost of which must then be borne by other stewards in the collective.

  1. Contract termination terms are designed to provide retailers with sufficient notice of voluntary steward exits: 

Voluntary stewards wishing to terminate their agreement will be required to provide 12 months written notice of termination. They must notify CSSA by December 1st of a calendar year. This will release them from their obligation to submit any further reports. The voluntary steward will still however be obligated to pay in full for all the invoices that are based on reports already submitted (as fees will already have been set for that period).  This payment obligation must be paid in full by May 1st of the year following their termination notification. This provision enables CSSA to provide retailers/first importers with sufficient notice of voluntary stewards’ termination in advance of the next reporting period at which time they will be required to assume the exiting voluntary stewards obligation.

Next Steps for Stewards

  • To apply to be a new voluntary steward for Stewardship Ontario, MMBC, MMSW, or MMSM, please download the agreement and complete all sections. Please then scan and send to National Steward Services via email at at or fax it to 1-844-471-1836.  If you have any questions, please contact National Steward Services at:1-888-980-9549 or via email
  • If you are an existing voluntary steward wishing to terminate your agreement, please notify National Steward Services in writing no later than December 1 of each year.
  • If you are an existing voluntary steward and want to continue as a voluntary steward with one of CSSA’s programs please complete and execute a Voluntary Steward Agreement for reach respective program.