Across Canada, governments and non-governmental agencies continue to implement various innovative waste management programs to divert waste away from landfills. These programs involve many product categories, including tires, batteries, electronic products, packaging and printed paper, beverage containers, and hazardous and special products.
Table of contents
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland & Labrador
- Northwest Territories
A. The 2023 summer update
This article is the latest instalment of Gowling WLG's ongoing bi-annual series that explores current developments in Canadian product stewardship and extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs. This review provides updates for the first half of 2023, including new programs, expanded programs, and shifts from product stewardship to EPR models. We also provide insight into what companies can expect in the remainder of 2023 and beyond.
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B. How have programs already changed in 2023, and what changes are expected in the rest of 2023 and beyond?
- Following consultations in 2022 regarding the reduction of single-use plastics, the British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy released a report entitled "What We Heard: Plastic and Single-Use Waste Reduction" in March 2023. Draft regulations based on the results of this consultation are expected later in 2023. Materials targeted by the proposed regulation include checkout bags, disposable foodservice accessories and packaging, and oxo-degradable plastic.
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- Alberta's Extended Producer Responsibility Regulation, which came into force on November 30, 2022, requires the implementation of EPR programs for two categories of products: single-use products and packaging and printed paper (PPP), and hazardous and special products.
Like similar programs in other jurisdictions, these new EPR programs make producers fully responsible, both financially and operationally, for the collection and management of designated products at end-of-life. Producers have until April 1, 2024 to provide verification of collection and management plans and the EPR programs must be operational by April 1, 2025.
- The Government of Alberta has extended the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA) electronic pilot (or e-pilot) project. The e-pilot covers an expanded list of electronic products as compared to the current electronics stewardship program operated by ARMA.
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- On March 31, 2023, the Household Packaging and Paper Stewardship Program Regulations, 2023 came into effect, shifting the Saskatchewan PPP program to a full EPR model. Notably, the new regulations make producers who are resident in Canada responsible for their products at their end-of-life, whereas the previous regulations obligated only those producers resident in Saskatchewan.
Multi-Material Stewardship Western (MMSW), which oversees Saskatchewan's current PPP stewardship program, must submit an EPR program plan to the Ministry of Environment by September 27, 2023. After the plan has been approved, the EPR program will be phased-in. Stakeholder consultation on MMSW's draft program plan is open until August 13, 2023.
- On May 8, 2023, the Manitoba Minister of Environment and Climate requested that Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba, the organization that oversees Manitoba's PPP stewardship program, provide a revised transition plan for the transition of the program to a full EPR model. This request follows public consultation about this transition, the results of which are currently under review.
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- On May 2, 2023, the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (the RPRA) published an update on battery producer compliance with the Ontario Batteries Regulation. The update, which follows the April 14, 2022 Registrar's statement on minimum management requirements, indicates that battery producer management systems currently meet the regulatory requirements for registered processors. The update includes a list of RPRA-registered battery processors which can assist producers and producer responsibility organizations in meeting their 2023 management requirements.
- Between May 17 and June 16, 2023, the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks consulted on amendments to the Blue Box Regulation.  The proposed amendments are minor and expand permitted deductions used to set management requirements and harmonize annual reporting deadlines with other jurisdictions, in order to provide clarity for producers. The proposed amendments came into effect July 1, 2023, and impacted producers are able to resubmit their deductions for 2023 by July 31, 2023. The RPRA will release interim guidance to assist impacted producers who plan to resubmit their deductions for the 2023 reporting year in advance of the July 31, 2023 deadline.
- On July 1, 2023, Ontario's transition to a new regulatory framework for blue box collection began, pursuant to the Blue Box Regulation under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 (RRCEA). The new framework shifts residential recycling in municipalities and First Nations reserve communities, currently overseen by Stewardship Ontario, to an EPR model overseen by the RPRA. Producers of blue box materials (i.e., PPP) are fully accountable and financially responsible for the funding and operation of the new EPR system. Under the Blue Box Regulation, all producers have an obligation to establish a collection system and ensure it is in place by July 1, 2023.
As part of this transition, blue box producers were required to sign up with a producer responsibility organization (PRO) or establish their own collection system prior to the July 1, 2023 deadline.
Obligated companies should be aware that during the transition period, from July 1, 2023 to December 31, 2025, they will temporarily have obligations to both Stewardship Ontario and RPRA.
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- On June 21, 2023, the schedule of contributions established by Éco Entreprises Québec and RecycleMédias for 2023 for Quebec's PPP program was approved by the Minister of Environment, the Fight Against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks. New conditions that apply for 2023 include porcelain as a designated material, a separate report required for containers and packaging, and a penalty that will be imposed for a failure to report.
A related news release notes that all designated producers of PPP must become members of Éco Entreprises Québec, including companies which operate transactional websites selling products to Quebec consumers, regardless of whether the company itself is resident in Quebec. Further, PPP producers will have to pay a special contribution linked to the 2023 schedule of contributions, payable in 2024.
- On June 1, 2022, the Government of Quebec enacted amendments to the Regulation respecting the recovery and reclamation of products by enterprises under the Environment Quality Act. The amendments modify the current regime surrounding recycling and EPR in Quebec. Several amendments are already in force, but upcoming changes to EPR in Quebec include:
- The establishment of a recovery and reclamation program for pharmaceutical products as June 30, 2024.
- The establishment of a recovery and reclamation program for pressurized fuel containers as of June 30, 2024.
- The establishment of a recovery and reclamation program for agricultural products including containers, twine, tubing and plastics for agricultural production as of June 30, 2023 (phase I) and June 30, 2025 (phase II).
- Modernization of the curbside recycling system in Quebec will gradually come into effect by December 31, 2024, resulting in the repeal of the Regulation respecting compensation for municipal services provided to recover and reclaim residual materials. During this transition period, the current compensation system will continue to apply, but will be phased out as municipal curbside recycling contracts expire. Despite this repeal, compensation due to municipalities in 2025 for eligible net costs incurred in 2024 will be paid by producers covered by the compensation plan.
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- On March 29, 2023, the Government of New Brunswick amended the Designated Materials Regulation under the Clean Environment Act to establish an EPR program for beverage containers. The program, which is still in development, will be overseen by Recycle NB and will be operational as of April 1, 2024. Brand owners who wish to sell, offer for sale or distribute beverage containers to a person in New Brunswick must apply to register with Recycle NB by August 1, 2023.
- On May 5, 2023, Recycle NB approved a stewardship plan for an EPR program for PPP in New Brunswick. The program, which is the fourth EPR program under the Designated Materials Regulation, will be launched in two phases, with the program first launching on November 1, 2023 in select regions, and on May 1, 2024 in the remaining regions.
Newfoundland & Labrador
- In March 2023, Newfoundland & Labrador's Multi-Material Stewardship Board, which oversees waste management in the province, released a "What We Heard" report regarding Phase II consultation on an EPR approach to PPP recycling. The report notes that there is momentum towards the establishment of EPR in Newfoundland & Labrador. As of now, a specific implementation timeline has not been established.
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- In March 2023, the Government of the Northwest Territories published a "What We Heard" report summarizing the results of public engagement on proposed amendments to the Waste Reduction and Recovery Act. Notably, these amendments would enable EPR programs in the territory. The amendments were introduced in the Legislative Assembly in the 2023 February/March sitting, followed by a 120 to 180 day review period.
- On February 17, 2023, the public engagement period ended for the Government of Yukon's proposed implementation of EPR in the territory. The three priority product categories are PPP, household hazardous waste, and automotive wastes. The Government of Yukon outlined the results of the public engagement in a "What We Heard" report published on June 28, 2023. The Government of Yukon has committed to implementing EPR in the territory by 2025.
- On February 17, 2023, two federal "What We Heard" reports were published regarding proposed:
- Rules to strengthen recycling and composting of plastics through accurate labelling.
- A federal plastics registry for the producers of plastic products.
Following these consultations, the federal government plans to publish a proposed regulatory framework for labelling and recycled content requirements, and draft instruments for the rules and proposed registry before the end of the year.
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C. Next steps
Waste diversion programs will continue to evolve and companies must ensure they understand their obligations to maintain compliance. Gowling WLG continues to monitor these programs closely and will publish further biannual updates and other updates on key changes to these programs.
The environmental law team at Gowling WLG has assisted many entities in meeting their EPR and stewardship requirements across Canada. If you have questions about your company's obligations, we encourage you to contact any member of our team.
 Circular Materials Atlantic, "New Brunswick Stewardship Plan for Packaging and Paper," March 22, 2023.