Menu Search

Waste Management Hub

Letter Writing Campaign

Join the campaign to modernize Alberta’s recycling regulatory framework!

AUMA wants municipalities to write to their Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA) about modernizing Alberta’s regulatory framework in Alberta. Alberta municipalities are asking the Government of Alberta to:

  • Develop an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) paper and packaging program; 
  • Expand current recycling programs to accept new materials that are currently going to our landfills, but can be recycled; and

  • Amend the regulations to give the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (Alberta Recycling) the flexibility to change the recycling fees.

Background:

Empowering Alberta Recycling to do more

Alberta Recycling manages the province’s used oil, scrap tires, paint, and end-of-life electronic programs. Today’s programs are accepting the same items as they did two decades ago, yet the variety of products has increased exponentially. For example, Alberta’s electronics recycling program does not accept small appliances, electronic toys, or game consoles, which are part of other provinces’ electronic recycling programs. Agricultural plastics are another example of new waste that today’s system does not cover. The current three-year pilot must be transitioned into a permanent program.

Long-term, financially-sustainable recycling programs

Alberta municipalities have long been partners with Alberta Recycling. Through 450 municipal depots, Albertans can recycle used oil, paint, scrap tires, and end-of-life electronics. These depots keep toxic waste out of our landfills.

Alberta Recycling does not have the authority to determine recycling fees for the programs it operates, and the fees are no longer sufficient to cover the costs. AUMA believes a workable and straightforward solution is to provide Alberta Recycling with the ability to adjust the fees according to the cost of operation. This approach is like Alberta’s Beverage Container Management Board and many stewardship programs in Canada. Under this structure, the Minister of Environment and Parks would continue to have oversight of Alberta Recycling and ensure that it continues to serve Albertans’ recycling needs.

Extended Producer Responsibility Paper and Packaging

Alberta’s municipalities are struggling with increased municipal recycling costs. Lack of action by the Government of Alberta is forcing municipalities to spend more to operate residential recycling programs. Canada’s recycling issues was highlighted by Global News three-part series investigating the state of Canada’s recycling industry. Part 3 explains how EPR is one of the potential solutions.

As reported by Global News in April 2019, lack of action by the provincial government is also resulting in Albertans being “billed twice for recycling”. Because so many producers (i.e. industry, manufacturers, and retailers) are already operating EPR recycling programs in other provinces, producers incorporate the costs of these programs in their national product pricing. This means Albertans are paying for recycling twice, as they pay for municipal recycling programs and the fees built into national product pricing.

Alberta is currently the only province in Western Canada that does not have an EPR paper and packaging program. EPR programs shift the cost of managing recyclable materials from municipalities to producers. If Alberta had an EPR paper and packaging program, the producers would be obligated to recycle their waste and cover a substantial amount of the costs of recycling, not municipalities. CBC News reported earlier this year on the benefits of developing an EPR program in Alberta.

Municipalities have highlighted the need to have an EPR paper and packaging program since 2013. The latest initiative to highlight the need for policy change came from the City of Calgary Councillor Peter Demong who brought a Notice of Motion to Council in February 2019 asking the city to work with AUMA, provincial government, industries, and Alberta municipalities to develop a baseline analysis that can inform the design of a provincial EPR program. AUMA Board of Directors and 33 municipalities (representing 70 per cent of Alberta’s population) have endorsed the motion.

AUMA, the Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance, and the Cities of Edmonton and Calgary are currently working together to engage a consultant to complete an Alberta Collaboration EPR Study. Eunomia is our consultant on this project. AUMA staff and the City of Calgary shared some preliminary findings with our members during AUMA’s 2019 annual convention. AUMA staff will update our members on the project via our e-newsletter, Digest, in the future.

AUMA has developed a letter template municipalities can download and adapt to send to their MLAs outlining the need for provincial action to improve waste management in Alberta.

Want to know more about EPR? Here are two infographics explaining the difference between EPR paper and packaging and today's municipal model for paper and packaging. Please also visit Recycling Council of Alberta: Extended Producer Responsibility Design Principles.

How do we reduce waste?

AUMA has adopted a three 3Rs hierarchy approach to waste management: reduce, reuse, recycle. When the 3Rs have been exhausted, recovery and disposal lie at the bottom of the hierarchy as last resorts. Click on the words in the pyramid to read more about each, including the role of municipalities and promising practices. 

 

Regional Collaboration

Municipalities are increasingly collaborating to provide services to their residents and waste management is no exception. For example, the Capital Region Waste Minimization Advisory Committee (CRWMAC) provides a forum for all municipalities in the Capital Region area to share information and implement joint waste minimization strategies and solutions.  Its Terms of Reference sets out a vision for the region to be a leader in waste minimization that strives to achieve greater than 80 per cent waste diversion.

The CRWMAC has developed the Capital Region Integrated Waste Management Plan (CRIWMP) to evaluate the “how to” and feasibility of achieving the target of diverting 80 per cent of waste.  Documents related to the plan include the following:

If you are not for zero waste, how much waste are you for?

Overall, waste reduction leading to Zero Waste is the end goal and philosophy behind our solid waste management strategy. 

“Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.” Zero Waste International Alliance

Find out how to move Towards Zero Waste

Alberta has a long way to go to achieve this vision. Although municipalities across the province have implemented successful local recycling programs, Alberta is the most wasteful province in Canada. This poor result is partially due to Alberta’s outdated recycling regulations, some of which have not been updated since 1997.