Canadian product stewardship and EPR: A review of 2023 and beyond

22 minute read
08 January 2024

In the latter half of 2023, Canadian governments and non-governmental organizations continued to develop innovative product stewardship and extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs with the goal of decreasing the amount of waste otherwise destined for landfills. These programs capture a wide range of product categories, including tires, batteries, electronics, packaging and printed paper (PPP) and beverage containers.

This article is the latest installment of Gowling WLG's ongoing bi-annual series that provides an overview of current developments in Canadian product stewardship and EPR programs.[1]

This review provides updates on new programs, expanded programs, key timelines and shifts from product stewardship to EPR models that took place in the latter half of 2023. We also provide high-level insights into forthcoming EPR and stewardship developments to watch for in early 2024.

Table of contents

A. How did programs change in the second half of 2023, and what changes are expected in early 2024 and beyond?

  1. British Columbia
  2. Alberta
  3. Saskatchewan
  4. Ontario
  5. Quebec
  6. New Brunswick
  7. Newfoundland & Labrador
  8. Nova Scotia
  9. Northwest Territories
  10. Yukon

B. Next steps

A. How did programs change in the second half of 2023, and what changes are expected in early 2024 and beyond?

British Columbia

Recent Developments

  • On December 20, 2023, Parts 1 and 4 (except s. 11) of the Single-Use and Plastic Waste Prevention Regulation came into effect in British Columbia.[2] The goal of the regulation is to limit the use of plastic shopping bags, disposable food service accessories, oxo-degradable plastics and food-service packaging made of other plastics, including compostable and biodegradable plastics.

    As of December 20, 2023, plastic utensils and pre-packaged bundled food service accessories are prohibited. To allow businesses and industries time to source alternative products, the Government of British Columbia has adjusted the rollout of the prohibition on plastic shopping bags, biodegradable food service ware, oxo-degradable products and certain types of film wrap to July 15, 2024.

    To support the implementation of the regulation, the Province has published guidance to help companies understand affected products and relevant timelines.[3]

Upcoming Changes

  • Recent amendments to British Columbia's Recycling Regulation came into effect early this year. Effective January 1, 2024, the definition of a "producer" in British Columbia's Recycling Regulation was expanded to include certain entities or persons involved in the manufacture and distribution of PPP related to liquor and cannabis.[4]

    Additionally, these amendments address liability for producer duties where there is more than one producer in relation to a product.

back to top...


Recent Developments

  • Registration for Alberta's PPP and hazardous and special products (HSP) EPR programs is now open.[5] Producers will be required to provide verification of collection and management plans to the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA) by April 1, 2024 for PPP and by October 1, 2024 for HSP, with both programs becoming operational by April 1, 2025.

    ARMA has released several resources to assist producers in understanding the requirements of the program, including the Extended Producer Responsibility Single-use Products, Packaging and Paper Products Bylaws and the Hazardous and Special Products Bylaws.[6] Notably, producers resident anywhere in Canada may be captured by these programs (which differs from some older programs that only obligate producers resident in the subject provincial/territorial jurisdiction).

back to top...


Recent Developments

  • On October 18, 2023, the Government of Saskatchewan announced that it has approved a new action plan for the Tire Stewardship of Saskatchewan (TSS) to improve its tire recycling program.[7] The product stewardship program for TSS will be extended by twelve months to accommodate the new plan.

Upcoming Changes

  • As noted in our last update, Multi-Material Stewardship Western (MMSW) published its draft Household Packaging and Paper Stewardship Program Plan for stakeholder feedback on June 13, 2023.[8] MMSW submitted the draft plan to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment on September 26, 2023, and is currently awaiting a response regarding the status of its submission.

back to top...


Recent Developments

  • On July 1, 2023, O Reg 174/23 came into force, amending Ontario's Blue Box Regulation.[9] Under the regulation, producers are obliged to report annually to the Resource Productivity & Recovery Authority (RPRA) the amount of blue box material they supplied in the previous year, with any permitted deductions. The amount a producer supplies is used to calculate their "management requirement", or how much blue box material they must recover, for the following year.

    The amendments expand the permitted deductions by allowing producers to deduct the weight of materials they collect outside the blue box system. The amendments also clarify that producers are not entitled to deduct materials collected as part of the blue box system, including blue box materials collected from supplemental and alternative collection systems. The Government of Ontario expects the change will reduce operational costs for some producers by having lower management targets.[10]

    Finally, the amendments also changed the annual reporting deadlines from April 30 to May 31 to harmonize with reporting deadlines in other Canadian jurisdictions.

back to top...


Recent Developments

  • On August 30, 2023, the Government of Québec amended the Regulation respecting the recovery and reclamation of products by enterprises.[11] The amendments impose new (and unique) obligations on businesses operating transactional websites selling into Québec (i.e., online sales), even if those businesses are not resident in Québec (i.e., they are not "domiciled" or have no "establishment" in Québec).

    The amendments also provide changes to the descriptions of some product categories, and modifications to the amounts of administrative monetary penalties for non-compliance.
  • On November 1, 2023, the Government of Québec announced the launch of Phase 1 of its revised deposit system for the recovery of all aluminum "ready-to-drink" beverage containers. Currently, the recovery program captures beer and soft drink containers. Phase 1 adds previously non-redeemable aluminum containers (for example, juice, cider or sparkling water cans) to the recovery program.[12]

    Phase 2, which will begin on March 1, 2025, will further extend the deposit system to include all ready-to-drink beverage containers from 100 millilitres to two litres (including containers made of glass, other breakable materials, plastic and ferrous metals).

    As discussed in our previous updates, under Québec's EPR approach, the development, implementation and financing of the modernized deposit system in Québec is the responsibility of producers, represented by the Association québécoise de récupération des contenants de boissons.
  • On November 15, 2023, the Government of Québec released its Draft Strategy for the Reduction and Responsible Management of Plastics in Quebec (2024-2029) which builds on its 2019-2024 Action Plan.[13]

    Among other things, the strategy contemplates extending EPR to new products with plastic components. Public consultation on the draft strategy took place from November 15, 2023 to December 15, 2023.

back to top...

New Brunswick

Recent Developments

  • On November 1, 2023, Recycle NB launched the first phase of its EPR program for PPP in New Brunswick, with a full roll-out expected by May 1, 2024.[14] This program obligates producers of PPP that are resident in Canada (and as mentioned above, this differs from some older programs that only obligated producers resident in the subject provincial/territorial jurisdiction).

back to top...

Newfoundland & Labrador

Upcoming Changes

  • In its 2023-2026 Strategic Plan, Newfoundland & Labrador's Multi Material Stewardship Board notes that it aims to establish an industry-led (i.e., EPR) program for PPP by March 31, 2026.[15] The proposed PPP program would be the first of its kind in Newfoundland & Labrador, following other industry-led programs that currently cover waste paint, electronic waste and used oil and glycol.   

back to top...

Nova Scotia

Recent Developments

  • On August 1, 2023, Nova Scotia's Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging, Paper Products and Packaging-Like Products Regulations came into force.[16] Pursuant to these regulations, producers of PPP resident in Canada will be fully responsible for the end of life of the subject materials through an EPR model. Obligated producers are required to register with the program by January 1, 2024.[17]

    The program is overseen by Divert NS pursuant to the Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging, Paper Products and Packaging-Like Products Regulations. To assist producers with the registration process, Divert NS recently released a producer registration guide.[18]
  • On August 1, 2023, the Nova Scotia Solid Waste-Resource Management Regulations were amended to include EPR programs for batteries, lamps and small household electric appliances.[19] The programs will come into effect between June 1 and August 1, 2024.

back to top...

Northwest Territories

Upcoming Changes

  • On October 6, 2023, Bill 78 received royal assent in the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly, repealing and replacing the Northwest Territories Waste Reduction and Recovery Act.[20] The bill gives the Government of the Northwest Territories legal authority to create regulations covering EPR programs.

    Prior to their creation, the Government of the Northwest Territories will engage with the public and industry stakeholders on the impact of any proposed regulations made under the new Act.[21] A future order will fix the coming into force date of this legislation.

back to top...


Recent Developments

  • On October 23, 2023, the Yukon Legislative Assembly passed amendments to the Environment Act in Bill No. 28.[22] The amendments allow the Government of Yukon to establish EPR programs across the territory. The implementation of EPR programs by 2025 is a Government of Yukon commitment under Our Clean Future: A Yukon strategy for climate change, energy and a green economy.[23]

    It is expected that a regulation will be in place in early 2024, followed by a two-year implementation period.

B. Next steps

In Canada, product stewardship and EPR programs continue to grow in number and scope. Companies must stay on top of these developments to maintain compliance (and to avoid the increasingly heavy enforcement actions available to regulators).

Gowling WLG will continue to monitor the evolution of product stewardship and EPR programs in Canada and publish bi-annual updates of important changes. If you have questions about your company's obligations under these programs, we encourage you to contact any member of our experienced environmental law team.

back to top...

[2] Single-Use and Plastic Waste Prevention Regulation, OIC No. 461, July 14, 2023.

[3] Government of British Columbia, "Zero waste and the circular economy: Plastics", 2023.

[4] Recycling Regulation, OIC No. 635, December 4, 2023. For tire products, a producer is a person who sells, imports, offers for sale or distributes a tire product and the owner or licensee of a trademark under which tire products are sold or distributed. For beverage containers, a producer is a person who manufactures in British Columbia a beverage sold in a container, a manufacturer's agent if manufactured outside of British Columbia, or a distributor or importer of beverage containers. A producer of other product categories is a person who manufacturers and uses in a commercial enterprise, sells, offers for sale, imports or distributes the product, and the owner or licensee of a trademark under which a product is used in a commercial enterprise, sold, offered for sale or distributed.

[5] Alberta Recycling Management Authority, Extended Producer Responsibility Registration.

[6] Alberta Recycling Management Authority, "Extended Producer Responsibility Single‑use Products, Packaging and Paper Products Bylaws", 2023; Alberta Recycling Management Authority, "Hazardous and Special Products Bylaws", 2023.  

[7] Government of Saskatchewan, "Tire Recycling and Processing Review Completed With Action Plan Underway", October 18, 2023.

[8] Multi-Material Stewardship Western, "Household Packaging and Paper Stewardship Program Plan – Draft", June 13, 2023.

[9] O Reg 174/23: Blue Box.

[10] Government of Ontario, "Amendments to the blue box regulation to expand deductions for producers", last updated June 29, 2023.

[11] Gazette Officielle du Québec, Part 2, Vol. 155, No. 35 : OC 1369-2023, Recovery and reclamation of products by enterprises – Amendment, August 23, 2023.

[14] Recycle NB, "Packaging and Paper Products", 2023.

[15] Multi-Materials Stewardship Board, "2023-26 Strategic Plan", 2023.

[16] Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging, Paper Products and Packaging-Like Products Regulations, NS Reg 139/2023.

[20]Bill 78, Waste Reduction and Resource Recovery Act, 2nd Sess, 19th Ass, Northwest Territories (assented to October 6, 2023).

[21] Government of Northwest Territories, "Plain Language Summary for Bill 78: Waste Reduction and Resource Recovery Act", March 29, 2023.

[22] Bill 28, Act to Amend the Environment Act (2023), 1st Sess, 35th Ass, Yukon (assented to October 23 2023).

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on this website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. Gowling WLG professionals will be pleased to discuss resolutions to specific legal concerns you may have.