In 2022, Canadian governments and other organizations forged ahead with innovative stewardship and extended producer responsibility ("EPR") programs to decrease the amount of waste headed to landfills. These programs capture product categories such as tires, batteries, electronics, packaging and printed paper, beverage containers, and hazardous and special products.
This article is the third instalment of an ongoing series, published bi-annually, that explores current developments in Canadian product stewardship and EPR programs. Our first article provides a primer on product stewardship and EPR programs and compiles the key changes that occurred in 2021, and our second article compiles the key changes that occurred in the first half of 2022. The Gowling WLG environmental law team also discussed some of the key issues and trends in product stewardship and EPR programs in a recent webinar.
This review provides updates from the latter half of 2022, including with respect to new programs, expanded product lists for existing programs, and expanded regulatory enforcement mechanisms and activity at the federal and provincial/territorial levels. Further, it provides insight into what companies should expect in 2023 and beyond (but is by no means exhaustive).
Packaging-like products include items such as disposable food storage bags, wraps, and containers, cardboard moving boxes, and plastic plant pots. Single-use products include items such as straws, stir sticks, utensils, plates, bowls, cups, and party supplies.
These new systems will not include products already captured by a provincially-regulated recycling program in Alberta.
Like EPR programs in other jurisdictions, producers will be fully responsible, both financially and operationally, for the collection and management of designated products after consumer use. Producers will also be responsible for collection services, achieving performance standards, and educating Albertans on the new regime.
Recognizing that producers will need time to develop and implement EPR systems, the Government of Alberta has set a deadline of April 1, 2024 for producers to provide verification of collection and management plans and a deadline of April 1, 2025 for EPR systems to be operational. The Government of Alberta has published EPR information for producers here.
To ensure compliance, producers were required to submit information regarding their current used batteries management system and used batteries tonnage to the RPRA on several dates in November 2022.
The Government of Yukon is hosting a number of online public information sessions throughout January 2023, and is soliciting feedback through a public survey and written responses via email until January 27, 2023.
As highlighted above, companies should be cognizant of the many changes that took effect in 2022 and will take place in 2023, including the new EPR program in Alberta and new enforcement powers in Ontario.
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.
 Circular Materials, "Guidebook for Stewards," October 2022.