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Alberta’s government is seeking ways to better manage this waste through a circular economy approach –an extended producer responsibility (EPR) program that will reduce volume in our landfills and diversify the economy. Under this approach, the cost and management of recycling shifts from municipalities and municipal taxpayers to those directly producing and consuming goods, encouraging companies to produce less waste and packaging and come up with innovative ways to recycle more materials.
“Furthering our recycling goals as a province is a win-win-win for the environment, local economies and municipalities, some of whom are sitting on backlogs of potentially recyclable materials. Changes to how we manage recycling in Alberta have been a long time coming and I am proud that our government is working to make the province a global leader in addressing plastic waste.”
Consultation will occur with municipalities, industry experts, Indigenous communities through stakeholder meetings and with the public through an online survey.
“The Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) is pleased to hear that the Government of Alberta is taking action on plastic waste. The RMA recognizes the value of recycling management and is a strong advocate that municipalities play an important role in waste reduction and waste management. We are looking forward to engaging with Alberta Environment and Parks and other stakeholders to design a made-in-Alberta solution to plastic waste that works for all.”
Currently, Alberta’s recycling activities support a total of 7,500 jobs while the sector contributes about $132 million a year to provincial gross domestic product. A shift to extended producer responsibility will increase the provincial GDP share to more than $148 million. The change would also cut emissions by an estimated 72,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually, or the equivalent of taking 120,300 passenger cars off the road each year.
“Alberta municipalities have long advocated for an EPR framework and an EPR packaging and paper program in Alberta. We welcome this opportunity to contribute to this policy's development, which will benefit our environment, provide recycling services residents need, reduce taxes for local ratepayers, and create Alberta jobs. Alberta municipalities look forward to finding a made-in-Alberta solution.”
“Investors that are looking to Alberta’s economy will see this program as a strong sign of the government’s commitment to strong environmental, social and governance policies, and ARMA’s vision of a future without waste. Extended producer responsibility initiatives like this one use sensible, sustainable plastics diversion and recycling strategies for economic growth. This creates conditions for economic development while meeting the demands and expectations of consumers, investors and taxpayers. Albertans should be proud of this initiative. Together, we are building a circular economy where domestic ingenuity is creating jobs, value, and making our world a cleaner, greener place.”
Moving to a province wide extended producer responsibility approach will provide greater efficiency and economy of scale for recycling. Many other jurisdictions in Canada have already introduced similar approaches, benefiting taxpayers and the environment. Extended producer responsibility does not always mean extra costs for consumers. Industry funds the programs and decides whether or not to charge consumers. In other jurisdictions, there have been no additional consumer fees for packaging materials and Alberta consumers may already benefit from extended producer responsibility programs because product pricing is done nationally.
The public online survey is open until April 30.
- Albertans send 1,034 kilograms per person of waste to landfills annually.
- Packaging and printed paper make up 15 to 20 per cent of waste. This represents a lost opportunity to keep material of value (e.g., plastics) in the economy and out of landfills.