Part of a series examining waste management programs across Canada.
Alberta Poised to Embrace Extended Producer Responsibility
After many years with few developments on the waste policy front at the provincial level, Alberta is now poised to introduce Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations that will bring this province more in line with developments in this area across the country. Many of us in the industry fondly remember the glory days of progressive Alberta waste policy. We were the second province to introduce beverage container deposit regulations (after only British Columbia), as well as the first province to introduce an electronics stewardship program, following successful introduction of stewardship programs for tires and used oil materials. However, recent years saw us fall well behind most jurisdictions in Canada on the stewardship/EPR front.
Well, that may be changing. Regulatory changes proposed by the Alberta government, and open for consultation through the fall of 2013, are poised to bring EPR to Alberta. The proposed changes cover a range of programs, starting with a bit of regulatory clean-up that would consolidate existing recycling regulations, add additional materials to electronics and used oil programs, as well as remove limiting elements that currently include recycling fees within the regulations, essentially preventing existing stewardship bodies from controlling the revenue portion of their budgets.
These changes to the existing regulatory structure will improve the effectiveness of existing recycling stewardship programs, but the most exciting proposed development is the enabling of EPR within regulation, as well as the designation of packaging, printed paper, and household hazardous waste (HHW) as the first materials to be addressed through EPR. If adopted, this move will provide much-needed support to municipal programs that are burdened with the management costs for these materials. With packaging and printed materials comprising a very significant portion of the waste stream, this offers an important piece to addressing the waste management puzzle.
It is hoped through initiatives like these, Alberta can start to address its dubious position as the most wasteful province in the country. The most recent Statistics Canada information shows Alberta sitting at over 1,000 kg of waste disposed per capita, as compared to a national average of 729 kg per capita. As one of the wealthiest provinces in the country, we really need to pull up our socks and address this wasteful reputation.
Here’s hoping the current Alberta government sees fit to embrace these new proposed regulations, and enables a more progressive and effective waste management regime in Alberta.
About this guest blogger:
Christina Seidel holds a Masters degree in Environmental Design (Environmental Science), as well as a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering, and is currently undertaking her PhD in Engineering Management, with a thesis topic of Assessing Recycling Options using Life-Cycle Assessment. She operates sonnevera international corp., a waste reduction consulting firm, and is the current Executive Director of the Recycling Council of Alberta. Christina loves rural life, choosing to live on a farm near Bluffton, Alberta, where her and her family raise Warmblood horses, and enjoy many other outdoor activities.