Alberta Looking to Extended Producer Responsibility and Other Innovations to Manage Waste

Alberta has launched consultations to develop an extended producer responsibility (EPR) program which delivers a more cost-effective, efficient way to manage the province’s recycling systems. Not only will this program save Albertans’ valuable tax dollars and create new jobs, but it will also incentivize companies to develop innovative solutions to post-consumer material challenges and create less overall waste.

Alberta’s neighbour to the west has progressively shifted to an EPR model over the last two decades with success, creating thousands of jobs and minimizing environmental stress. As North America’s first region to implement an EPR program in 1994, British Columbia has become a globally-recognized example of how EPR programs can be effective and spur economic growth when they bring together industry and government implement a localized approach to waste management. A 2014 report found that British Columbia’s EPR program created more than 900 jobs and, in one year alone, recovered over $46 million in materials and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

The chemistry and plastics industry is already a major contributor to Alberta’s local economy and supports approximately 58,400 jobs in the region. EPR will build on this economic success by creating 220 new jobs. Similar to British Columbia and other regional EPR programs, Alberta’s EPR plan will minimize the province’s environmental footprint by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 72,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually. Moreover, the development of an EPR program will support Alberta’s Natural Gas Vision and Strategy program, which lays out a plan for Alberta to become the Western North America centre of excellence for plastics recycling by 2030.

In addition to reducing community waste management costs, creating jobs, and limiting environmental stress, Alberta’s EPR program will benefit the region by:

  • Making recycling services more consistent and accessible to Albertans;

  • Advancing Alberta’s circular economy efforts by keeping materials in the economy and out of landfills;

  • Improving efficiency by connecting processors and transporters of used plastics with those purchasing materials, like recycled plastic, for use in new products; and

  • Energizing the development of optimized packaging that meet the EPR program’s standards, reduce recycling costs, and limit unnecessary waste.

Just like B.C., Alberta has an opportunity to lead the way in developing an EPR program that strengthens collaboration between government and industry and advances efforts to build a truly circular economy in Canada.

Alberta is accepting feedback on its proposed EPR approach through April 30.

“It’s good news for the environment, it’s good news for the economy, it’s good news for the ratepayers, taxpayers, good news for municipalities across Alberta.” Peter Demong, Councillor of Ward 14 in Calgary, Alberta