Friday, 27 April 2018

International Stewardship Forum 2018

Steward Wise at the International Stewardship Forum

Andrea Chmielinski giving a presentation on Circular Economy.

Earlier this month, Steward Wise Principal and Founder, Andrea Chmielinski, embarked on a journey to Australia to participate in the International Stewardship Forum hosted by the Global Product Stewardship Council (GlobalPSC).

Hosted in Sydney, Australia over April 4 - 6, 2018, the Forum brought speakers from Canada, the USA, Europe, South Africa, Asia and Chile to share best practices and experiences from their home countries. 

Andrea gave three talks from a millennial Canadian perspective:
  • The Business Case for EPR: From "Cost and Risk Reduction" to "Synergistic Value Creation" 
  • EPR Programs in Canada for Waste Electronics and Electrical Equipment (consumer electronics, batteries, fluorescent and other light bulbs, and small and large appliances)
  • Circular Economy in Action: Grassroots efforts and social enterprise models in Canada 

The International Stewardship Forum was a platform for GlobalPSC and the Australia Government Department of Environment and Energy to gain practical insights from product stewardship and extended producer responsibility programs across a broad range of products and substances.

The forum was hosted and supported by the Australian Government in order to inform the review of the Product Stewardship Act 2011 and comprised of two days of presentations, panel discussions and question periods on 4-5 April 2018, followed by one day of exclusive invitation-only modified Chatham House discussions.

The topics up for discussion were Circular Economy, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), product stewardship, plastic pollution and Waste Electronics and Electrical Equipment (WEEE). The official main themes were:

  • Overview of the international landscape and practical implications for Australia 
  • Best practice policies and programs 
  • The business case for product stewardship (corporate perspective) 
  • Engagement and facilitation 
  • The future of product stewardship: issues and opportunities (including Circular Economy). 
Key takeaways, content from Andrea's talks and more are coming soon... so watch your inbox!

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Thursday, 8 March 2018

Happy International Woman's Day!

"All the things I love is what my business is all about." - Martha Stewart

Steward Wise Principal and Founder Andrea Chmielinski will be writing this piece.

International Women's Day has never been so exhilarating for me. When I was employed full time, I was not satisfied. I was not satisfied with the pace of change for good. I was not satisfied by the status quo requirements that governed business decisions. These decisions, guided mainly by traditional marketing strategy, create immense amounts of wasted materials and resources. This is not a reflection on any of the individuals with whom I worked with closely. Wasted materials and resources are always caused by a complex system of business decision makers, priority setters, and organizational leaders that set the pace for change and set the standards for product and packaging selection.

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." - Maya Angelou

Despite the fear, despite the security of full-time employment, I realized that change had to start with me. When faced with resistance, I realized that change from the inside was not a battle that I wanted to continue. So, instead of accepting the resistance and falling into line, I changed my attitude. I decided I could influence decision makers from the outside. I decided I could achieve a life-time goal of starting my own business, and I decided I could achieve this goal before turning 30.

"Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” – Amelia Earhart

Less than a year later, I am happy to report that Steward Wise is up and running, profitable, and helping Canadian business understand what environmental stewardship is all about. I have never been so happy to wake up each morning and get to work. I can't even believe it, but I have been invited to speak at the International Stewardship Forum about topics from my repertoire of knowledge. I will be speaking about traditional resource management (stewardship) programs, but am also happy to report that I have been given the opportunity to share the ideas and concepts being put to the test by other new Canadian ventures. The entrepreneurs I will be speaking about are the change makers. They are young, they are visionary, and yes, some of them are female. I am so excited to share their stories and ideas on the international stage. Hint:  most are involved in developing business models for the "circular economy." I can't wait.

“A strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness, and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection. She values and uses all of her gifts.” – Nancy Rathburn

I hope this short story inspires you to change your own attitude today. If you have experienced fear, resistance, or discrimination, today is a day for you to stand up for yourself as a woman, or to stand up for your Mom, sister, partner, or daughter and face the reality of today's world. Yes, the Women's March and #metoo movements have pushed women's issues to the forefront of popular culture, but never underestimate the power of YOUR decisions, talents, gifts and contributions!

Have a great International Women's Day!

Andrea Chmielinski
Principal and Founder
Steward Wise

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Thursday, 12 October 2017

Updates from the Conference on Canadian Stewardship 2017

Do you know how the Ontario Resource Recovery & Circular Economy Act of 2016 will affect your business?

Did you know that an "eco-fee" is not a tax? 

Did you miss the stewardship conference of the year? 

If you answered No, No and Yes to the questions above, consider this. 

The Circular Economy Act of 2016 may increase the business levy for the Ontario blue box recycling program from 50% to 100%. The exact wording of this change is a move to "full producer responsibility." Your business could be defined as a producer if you are a retailer, distributor, manufacturer or importer of consumer or business products in Ontario. Meaning, more likely than not, the fees paid to Stewardship Ontario will drastically increase over the next five years. 

To learn more about these changes, and how they relate specifically to plastics packaging recycling fees, join me at the Mississauga Valley Community Centre on Thursday, October 19th at Noon for a Litter-less Lunch & Learn

The presentation will start at 12:10, run for 30 minutes, after which we will have a Questions & Answer period followed by networking until 1:30 if you are available.

Homemade artisan sandwiches and a yummy quinoa and garden-fresh vegetable salad will be served. See you there!

Get Tickets

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Ten Tips for the 2017 Éco Entreprise Québec Reports

The reporting deadline for the EEQ 2017 Schedule of Contributions is Tuesday, October 10, 2017. With this deadline fast approaching, there are lots of details to consider in the preparation of your report. Steward Wise has prepared this list of tips for your consideration as you get the report development underway (or finished!).

1)      Get to know your suppliers
If your suppliers provide paper and packaging to your company and have a business address in Quebec, they are obligated to report on paper and packaging first. Avoid duplicating these weights for EEQ and lower your final invoice by subtracting the weights supplied by Quebecois businesses from your final total.  Check for their steward status by logging into the ECO-D portal and finding the “list of companies expected to report.” If a Quebec supplier is not listed, confirm their business address here and remove them from your report.

2)      Focus on Consumer Channels and Remove B2B
Are you in a business that sells to both consumers and businesses? If so, be sure to subtract the weight of paper and packaging generated from business-to-business (“B2B”) transactions. The EEQ program finances mostly residential blue box recycling. Hopefully your commercial customers recycle your content out of goodwill!

Pro tip:  EEQ is considering the designation of certain materials from B2B channels in the future. On September 27 they are hosting a meeting to discuss. To learn more, see this news release from EEQ. Start thinking about data collection now!

3)      20% Credit for Post-Consumer Recycled Content… Documentation Required!
EEQ offers a 20% credit on fees where stewards can provide robust documentation of meeting minimum thresholds as outlined below. Documentation includes certifications (i.e. from the Forestry Stewardship Council), chain of custody documentation, confirmation letters from suppliers, ISO14001 or BNQ standard 8952-911, etc. Credits are issued on a per-category basis. For more information visit the EEQ website.

4)      General-Use Paper Exclusions and Inclusions
Be sure to exclude greeting cards, workbooks/notebooks, personal agendas, white envelopes purchased in bulk, and calendars. However, blank sheets of paper for general use sold through consumer channels, such as printer paper, must be included in your report.

5)      Report PVC plastics in the “PLA and other degradable plastics” category (New in 2017!)
PVC plastic now grouped under the PLA and other degradable plastics category for EEQ. In previous years PVC was grouped under the “Other Plastics” category. Don’t forget this switch!

6)      Blister Packs
Not only are blister packs difficult to open, they are difficult to report properly! If a blister pack is made of plastic and only plastic, categorize it under the appropriate plastics category. However, if a blister pack back panel is made of boxboard and is “difficult to remove,” (i.e. glued to the plastic front panel), the entire package must be categorized under “Paper Laminates.” This category has a higher fee, so follow EEQ’s eco design tips in the future!

7)      LDPE/HDPE Film VS. Plastic Laminates
The categorization of LDPE/HDPE film should be quite straight forward if you know the resin code of the film protecting your products. Resin code #2 is HDPE and #4 is LDPE. If the resin codes are not marked on the film itself, ask your suppliers to confirm the type of resin. “Plastic Laminates” are films not made of LDPE, HDPE, PVC, PLA (polylactic acid) or any other degradable plastic.  If the film is made of several different types of plastic or a combination of several
materials, including plastic, it should be entered under Plastic Laminates.
Pro tip: Bubble wrap is to be categorized under “Plastic Laminates.”

8)       Caps on bottles, tetra packs and gable top containers
Detachable caps and covers on bottles and containers must be reported under the category that best reflects their resin make-up. Some schemes allow the caps to be grouped with the category of the bottle itself, but EEQ requires the steward to make the distinction.

9)       Bags
Include single-use bags such as grocery store plastic bags or drive-thru/take out food bags. Categorize plastic bags in either “LDPE/HDPE Plastic Shopping Bags” or “Plastic Laminates” (see tip #7). Exclude any plastic bags that are manufactured to be re-usable. Categorize paper bags in “Kraft Paper Shopping Bags” if the bag is brown craft paper. Any other non-laminated paper bag types must be categorized in “Boxboard and other Paper Packaging.” Laminated paper bags should be categorized in “Paper Laminates.”
Pro Tip: Exclude any bags sold as a product. Examples include, sandwich bags, freezer bags, yard waste bags, etc.

10)     PET – Resin Code #1
PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) is one of the most popular types of plastic for use in bottles and containers. It can be made in a variety of colours and varying degrees of transparency. EEQ has two categories for PET, “PET Bottles” and “PET Containers.” EEQ will only accept transparent clear, green or blue PET bottles and containers to be categorized as PET. Opaque PET containers must be categorized under “Other Plastics.”

Steward Wise hopes this article was useful for you. If there wasn’t anything applicable above, please feel free to comment below, contact us from our website or email

Good luck!

The Steward Wise Story

Steward Wise is a boutique consulting firm started by me, Andrea Chmielinski, over the summer of 2017.

I could give you a summary of my resume and experience*, but that’s not the story I tell people when they ask, how did you get into this? Its much more personal. Environmentalism and business have been intertwined around me since I was a child.

My parents are successful business people. My mother is a trained Chartered Accountant with years of executive management experience. I am lucky to have such a great mentor to me as a young woman. My stepfather is a CPG marketing guru, and my father is a sales executive. All three of my parents taught me the value of a dollar, the virtue of hard work and “how the world works” from an economic perspective.

The environmentalism comes in from my grandparents' influence. All my life they have been a constant and steady presence. My grandfather babysat me after school while my mom worked late to achieve her career goals. Little did she know he was influencing my thinking – there is something more to life than the almighty dollar, and ultimately, to always act as good stewards to the natural world around us. My grandparents are environmental activists in the truest sense of the word. I grew up attending protests with them, whether it was in front of city hall or at an overnight camp-out in the Red Hill Valley (now a massive high way). They are both professional photographers, using their art as a medium to reveal the ugly impact that economic progress can have on this world.  (See left)

I ended up somewhere in the middle:

I have a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from Wilfrid Laurier University and was in the co-op program. I tried a marketing co-op in university, it was a great opportunity but something was missing for me. I am driven by doing good. Luckily, “sustainability” had become enough of a buzz word in the corporate world that Wilfrid Laurier started offering it as a specialization, right along with accounting and finance. I knew it would be perfect for me.

After working the corporate world and seeing how sustainability efforts have evolved, I had great opportunities to continue down that path. But I have also spent the last seven years specializing in stewardship compliance and reporting. I have a knack for optimizing reports and ensuring the processes are in place for long term success. 

I hope we have the opportunity to meet one day. I would love to bring my experience to your organization.

Please feel free to email me at

*Here is a summary of my resume and experience:

I’ve spent the last seven years working in corporate sustainability. My last role was as a Stewardship Operations Analyst at Hudson’s Bay Company. Before that I worked as Canon Canada’s sole environmental specialist, running the toner return program, ISO14001 and all the regular stewardship compliance reports.

At Wilfrid Laurier I was in the co-op program, which I cannot recommend enough. It is invaluable in terms of gaining experience before launching a career. I worked 4 month stints at Kao Brands, Panasonic Canada and Pepsico Beverages. I dipped my toe into marketing at Kao, but it was my experience with corporate sustainability at Panasonic and later Pepsico that drove my decision to specialize in Sustainability for Business in my last year at university.