Improving Alberta’s waste management approach

L-R: Searle Turton, Ed Gugenheimer, Christina Seidel and Minister Nixon.

If passed, the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Amendment Act would set the foundation for Alberta’s government to implement an extended producer responsibility (EPR) framework in 2022.

An EPR framework would create provincial systems for managing single-use plastics, packaging, paper products and hazardous and special products like household pesticides and solvents. This would shift the physical and financial role of collecting, sorting, processing and recycling waste to the industries that produce products instead of local governments and taxpayers.

It would also contribute to increased recycling in Alberta, which is estimated to inject up to $1.4 billion into the economy and support about 13,300 jobs.

“Right now, and for too long, municipalities and taxpayers have been shouldering the burden of collecting, sorting, processing and recycling waste. We’re moving Alberta forward with legislation that will make producers of the waste responsible for the system in a way that creates a big opportunity to diversify the plastics economy.”

Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks

An EPR framework would help diversify Alberta’s economy by encouraging companies to find innovative ways to recycle more materials and produce less waste and packaging. It would also bring Alberta in line with producer-run programs in other jurisdictions, including British Columbia, helping empower producers to create local recycling markets, design cost-effective and efficient recycling programs, get the most value for their products and demonstrate environmental responsibility.

The new framework would also support Alberta’s transition to a plastics circular economy by growing markets and attracting investment in plastics recycling. The plastics circular economy is a key part of Alberta’s Natural Gas Vision and Strategy and contributes to Alberta’s recovery in positive ways.

“EPR is the waste management solution many municipalities and organizations have been advocating for. This proposed system has the potential to help the recycling industry prosper while benefiting our communities, our environment and our economy.”

Searle Turton, MLA for Spruce Grove-Stony Plain

In spring 2021, Alberta’s government gathered input on the design of an extended producer responsibility approach. Key feedback has been summarized in a What We Heard report. Stakeholders and the public are invited to provide comments and additional input to help inform Alberta’s EPR framework by Dec. 15.

“EPR is a critical and proven step in accelerating our transition to a circular economy, keeping valuable materials out of landfills while driving investment in our province, bolstering economic activity, creating jobs and saving taxpayer dollars. It creates the conditions for innovation and leadership, empowering producers to design products with less environmental impacts and positioning our province as Canadian leaders in waste prevention and recycling.”

Christina Seidel, executive director, Recycling Council of Alberta

“EPR is a natural and necessary next step for Alberta, and at ARMA, we're encouraged by the support from Albertans and industry in recognizing that it's time we look deeper into what a made-for-Alberta EPR framework could be. Alberta is ready for solutions that enable product development but minimize the impact it has on our environment.”

Ed Gugenheimer, CEO, Alberta Recycling Management Authority

“Retail Council of Canada members recognize the important environmental outcomes that result from industry-led EPR. We look forward to contributing our insights, experience and best practices from other jurisdictions, as we continue to collaborate in the development of an effective and efficient made-in-Alberta framework.”

Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO, Retail Council of Canada

“AUMA believes EPR will benefit Albertans, municipalities and our province’s environment and economy for generations to come. We look forward to working with the provincial government and other key stakeholders to make it a reality.”

Angela Duncan, interim president, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association

“Supporting EPR is a no-brainer for the cities and towns of Alberta. We have been advocating for this type of recycling reform for many years. Not only will it increase recycling options for Albertans, it will save municipalities and – by extension – our ratepayers money.”

Peter Demong, councillor, City of Calgary Ward 14, and AUMA vice-president, Director of Cities over 500,000

“A made-in-Alberta EPR program will bring many benefits to rural municipalities and help transition Alberta to a circular economy. RMA looks forward to continuing to work with the Government of Alberta and key stakeholders to ensure that Alberta’s EPR program has a comparable level of service at a comparable level of cost in urban and rural municipalities. It will be important to ensure that the EPR program makes recycling available to all Albertans.”

Paul McLauchlin, president, Rural Municipalities of Alberta

Quick facts

  • Albertans send 1,034 kilograms per person of waste to landfills annually – more than any other Canadian jurisdiction. The national average is 710 kilograms per year.
  • The EPR framework would help Alberta transition to a plastics circular economy and achieve one of the goals outlined in the Natural Gas Vision and Strategy for Alberta to become a North American centre of excellence for plastics diversion and recycling by 2030.