EPR Update and Alberta Collaborative Extended Producer Responsibility Study
Alberta Municipalities has been advocating for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs since 2018. After several years of advocating for change and support from various stakeholders, including an EPR Motion from Mr. Searle Turton, Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) – Spruce Grove-Stony Plain in 2020. Many MLAs from all parties supported the motion, and it was passed unanimously by the Alberta Legislature. Alberta Municipalities appreciates that many MLAs supported the motion, and we thank them, especially MLA Turton, for listening to municipalities' priorities.
Strong public support led to Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) released a discussion paper in April 2021, seeking stakeholders' input on designing EPR programs for packaging paper products (PPP), single-use plastics (SUP), and hazardous and special products (SUP).
Alberta Municipalities provided our submission to AEP in early May 2021. In our submission, we highlight three crucial elements that municipalities want to see in upcoming EPR programs.
Municipalities must be part of the decision-making,
Alberta should harmonize where possible, and
The province must fund the EPR transition for hazardous and special products.
Municipalities are concerned that the lack of coordination between Alberta Infrastructure and AEP has led to downloading on municipalities and sending contradicting policy directions to Albertans.
In November 2021, AEP released a "What We Heard" Report on the Spring 2021 stakeholder engagement. AEP also introduced Bill 83 to create the legislated foundation for future EPR regulations. The Alberta Legislature passed Bill 83 in early December 2021.
AEP started the second round of engagement in early December 2021 with municipalities, industries, and waste collectors. To inform and educate our members regarding EPR, and to learn our members' views on EPR, Alberta Municipalities staff hosted calls with municipal staff; moreover, arranged a virtual session in partnership with the Recycling Council of Alberta on January 5, 2022. Over 150 people, including elected officials, municipal staff, provincial governments, and industry members, attended the session.
Alberta Municipalities provided a high-level submission based on what we heard from our members:
- Municipalities must be part of the decision-making,
- Current service level and accessibility must be either maintained or enhanced under EPR programs,
- Alberta's EPR programs must accept the same items already included in other Canadian jurisdictions, and
- AEP should implement packaging paper products, single-use plastics, and hazardous special products programs concurrently.
We continue to engage AEP on the EPR file. Our understanding is that AEP would like to have regulations ready by June 2022. Alberta Municipalities is urging AEP to establish working groups to support the development of EPR regulations now, and the working groups can assist with implementation once the regulations are passed. We plan to bring EPR updates to municipalities via the Weekly and the Waste Management Hub.
EPR for Packaging and Paper Products (PPP) Study Released
Alberta Municipalities, along with the Cities of Edmonton and Calgary, producer representatives, and the Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance, released their “Extended Producer Responsibility for Residential Packaging and Paper Products: Alberta Collaborative Extended Producer Responsibility Study.” The study confirms that a made-in-Alberta solution to EPR for packaging and paper products would bring substantial and immediate benefits to Albertans.
About EPR for Packaging and Paper Products
Currently, as the only province in Western Canada without an EPR program, Alberta’s municipalities carry the financial burden and operating risks of recycling and disposing of consumer waste. EPR for packaging and paper products would empower producers of consumer PPP to manage and pay for the recycling of the materials they distribute. More than 80 per cent of Canadians are already benefiting from EPR programs while Albertans forego millions of dollars in cost savings, economic opportunities, and jobs, as well as multiple environmental and social benefits every year.
The benefits expected from a made-in-Alberta solution to EPR for packaging and paper products include:
Reduce the recycling collection services costs that municipalities charge their residents each year by up to $105 million; this is Albertans’ money and it can be reinvested in other municipal services or provided as a cost saving to municipal residents
Add $16 million to the Alberta economy every year
Gain approximately 220 new jobs in Alberta’s recycling industry
Recycle an additional 21,000 tonnes of packaging and paper products each year
Reduce CO2 emissions by 72,000 tonnes each year – the equivalent of removing 15,000 cars from the road annually
Increase recycling opportunities for rural Alberta and people who live in multi-dwelling residences
Make recycling more convenient for Albertans by collecting the same materials province-wide
Incentivize industry to design products that are more efficient to collect and recycle
Incentivize industry to invest in recycling innovations and infrastructure