Paper Chase: What will extended producer responsibility for packaging and printed paper mean for local government?

Source: Allen Lynch, MSW Management, Vol. 23 no. 3, May 2013

…I listed the benefits to our local governments of having EPR programs in place:
– Increased diversion from municipal disposal systems
– Reduced collection and disposal costs
– Removal of the most toxic products from the wastestream
– Reduced litter and illegal dumping

My point was that if EPR resulted in reduced costs to local governments and ratepayers, why would you not be in favor of it?

Since I wrote that editorial, the list of EPR programs in the province of British Columbia has expanded to where we now have 25 regulated EPR programs. In May 2011, the province amended its recycling regulation to include packaging and printed paper (PPP). The amendment shifts financial and administrative responsibility for managing these materials from municipalities to producers. Producers are required to have the program operational by May 19, 2014.

The regulation requires producers (brandowners and first sellers) to be 100% responsible for the life cycle management of their products, including collection, processing, and marketing for all PPP throughout the province. This responsibility applies to residential premises and municipal property but not industrial, commercial or institutional property. The PPP legislation is quite different from other industry stewardship programs, which have principally focused on items not already included in municipal recycling programs. Once implemented it will be the first 100% producer responsibility program for PPP in the world.

So what will this mean for local government and ratepayers in the province? Are we in favor of this new comprehensive program? How will it affect the residential recycling collection programs that have been in place for more than 20 years? Exactly what are the issues and challenges and how can we deal with them?…