Alberta is the latest province to introduce new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs for single-use products, packaging and printed paper (PPP) and hazardous and special products (HSP).

Yesterday, November 30th, these programs came into effect in the province and will be fully operational by October 2026, according to a plan released by Alberta’s UCP government in early October. Alberta’s EPR Regulation was approved on October 3, 2022, through Order in Council, with the provincial government recognizing that it will take time for producers to develop their EPR systems including considerations for collection and material management.  

The aim of EPR is to give producers an incentive to change product design for reuse as well as make it easier to recycle packaging and shift the responsibility to product manufacturers to recycle their own packaging and divert it from disposal.

“Alberta has been a little bit late to the table on this but we’re really, really thrilled that now we actually have a framework for EPR,” said Christina Seidel, executive director of the Recycling Council of Alberta.

Single-use Products, Packaging and Printed Paper (PPP) 

Each year, Alberta municipalities collect and process 197,600 tonnes of recyclable packaging and paper products from households at a cost of about $107 million, as estimated by a third party study.

PPP includes:

  • paper products such as newspapers, packaging, cardboard, printed paper and magazines
  • plastics (both rigid and flexible)
  • metal and glass from the residential sector.

Alberta’s EPR framework does not currently include PPP from the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors.

Hazardous and Special Products (HSP)

Currently, the Government of Alberta and Alberta municipalities jointly fund management of household hazardous wastes. Alberta’s EPR system for HSP will replace Alberta’s existing household hazardous waste program and expand upon the materials accepted.

HSP products include:

  • consumer-sized solid, liquid, and gaseous products that are flammable, corrosive, and toxic
  • batteries
  • pesticides

The system does not include HSP products sold in industrial sizes. HSP materials regulated under existing regulated stewardship programs (beverage containers, tires, paint, electronics and used oil materials) are not included in EPR HSP to avoid duplicating requirements.

Oversight of EPR

The Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA), which has managed regulated recycling programs for used oil, paint, tires and electronics in Alberta for more than 30 years, is the designated organization that will provide oversight of Alberta’s new PPP and HSP EPR systems.

ARMA will have authority to develop bylaws that outline details and requirements related to:

  • registration
  • reporting
  • auditing
  • promotion of EPR
  • a dispute resolution process
  • thresholds for exemptions
  • compliance matters

ARMA is accountable to the Minister of Environment and Parks, and must provide business plans, reports, and audited financial statements to the Minister annually as well as notice of changes to its bylaws.

Regulation Timelines:

October 3, 2022

Alberta’s EPR Regulation was created through Order in Council (PDF, 328 KB). 

November 30, 2022

Alberta’s EPR Regulation comes into force. 

April 1, 2024

Deadline for producers to provide verification of collection and management plans to the ARMA.

April 1, 2025

EPR systems for single-use products, PPP, and HSP will be operational.

April 1, 2026

Homes currently not receiving community collection services should have an available service.

For more information, visit the Alberta Government website page on EPR Programs or contact the Waste Policy Department at:

Phone: 780-644-4961
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: aep.recyclingregulation@gov.ab.ca

For several decades, Alberta municipalities choosing to launch recycling programs have had to bear the cost through taxpayer revenues. As a result, recycling isn’t equally available to all Albertans.

EPR programs shift the costs of recycling packaging and products to the manufacturer, importer or retailer. A group of producers can also form non-profit Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) to manage the recycling.

As like other provincial programs, exemptions will be offered to charities and smaller businesses where gross revenue falls below a still-to-be-determined threshold.

The system is expected to standardize what is recycled throughout Alberta and extend collection to municipalities that don’t already have it.

Growing Targets 

The regulation sets out annual targets for what must be recycled from Oct. 31, 2027, to Oct. 31, 2033.

For example, 80% of the paper products listed in the regulation that are used in Alberta homes must be recycled by 2027. The goal is 95% by 2033.

The requirement for rigid plastics is 50% in 2027 with a target of 65% by 2033.

“The fact that these numbers go up by each year really drives industry then to do better and that that approach is very, very positive,” Seidel said.

Although industry will bear the costs of EPR, the Retail Council of Canada supports the new regulations.

Michael Zabaneh, Vice President for Sustainability, said the regulation is fair and uses best practices from other jurisdictions. He said the purpose of EPR isn’t just about getting producers to cover costs.

“Extended producer responsibility is intended to incent changes in packaging and incent producers to drive more diversion and incent improvements in product design so that things have a more circular loop,” he said.

Not every group is thrilled with the new regulation.

News Media Canada, which advocates on behalf of Canadian newspaper publishers, is calling on Alberta to exempt newspapers from the EPR regulation as Ontario did earlier this year.

Fees that would be faced by newspaper publishers could be hundreds of thousands of dollars — a “kick in the teeth” for an industry that is already struggling, said Paul Deegan, president and CEO of News Media Canada, in talking to the CBC.

New Media Canada supports initiatives to force manufacturers to reduce wasteful packaging but Deegan said newspapers shouldn’t be included.

“Newspapers are not packaging,” Deegan said. “We are the product and therefore we should be exempt.”

Source: Alberta Government
Source: CBC News