Alberta is currently the only province in Western Canada that does not have an EPR packaging and paper program. EPR programs shift the cost of managing recyclable materials from municipalities to producers. If Alberta had an EPR program, the producers would be obligated to recycle their waste and cover a substantial amount of the costs of recycling.
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.
Municipalities have highlighted the need to have an EPR packaging and paper 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.
Municipalities recognized the urgent needs to modernize Alberta’s recycling regulations. At the 2019 AUMA Convention, AUMA members endorsed a resolution calling on the Government of Alberta to establish robust EPR regulations for a packaging and paper program.
EPR System Explanation:
The provincial government creates legislation to enable an EPR framework in Alberta
Manufacturers of packaging and paper product (PPP) are responsible for the recycling of that product.
A non-profit stewardship agency is formed by the manufacturers to collect and recycle their product.
Manufacturers pay a fee to the stewardship agency based on their production of PPP to cover costs of collection and processing
Manufacturers sell their products to consumers as usual
Consumers dispose of their PPP waste, typically in the form of curbside recycling
Municipalities may choose to continue to collect curbside recycling or have the stewardship agency collect it on their behalf
The stewardship agency collects, sorts, and processes the PPP waste collected
The stewardship agency and manufacturers report to the government of Alberta to ensure accountability and best practices in the recycling processes
EPR Key Terms
Extended Producer Responsibility is environmental policy approach in which the manufacturer of a product is responsible for that product through the post-consumer stage of its life cycle.
Packaging and Paper Product
Organization created by the manufacturers of packaging and paper products to collect and recycle their products. Manufacturers pay funds to the agency to cover the costs of collection and processing of PPP.
Producer means the most responsible entity which may include but is not limited to the brand owner, manufacturer, franchisee, assembler, filler, distributor, retailer or first importer of the product who sells, offers for sale, or distributes the product in or into a jurisdiction.