The Alberta government is launching formal consultations to design a made-in-Alberta solution to plastic, packaging, and hazardous household waste.

The provincial 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 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,” said Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks. “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,” said Paul McLauchlin, president of RMA. “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.

“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,” said Ed Gugenheimer, CEO, Alberta Recycling Management Authority. Together, we are building a circular economy where domestic ingenuity is creating jobs, value, and making our world a cleaner, greener place.”

Other jurisdictions in Canada have already introduced similar EPR approaches. In other jurisdictions, there have been no additional consumer fees for packaging materials and Alberta consumers may already benefit from EPR programs because product pricing is done nationally.

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.

The public online survey is open until April 30.

For further information, visit: Circular Plastics Economy Engagement

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