B.C. Continues to Lead the Country with New Recycling Regulations

Connector July 2020

On June 29, British Columbia (B.C.) became the first province to announce extended producer responsibility (EPR) requirements for single-use items and packaging-like products.

“This expansion is an example of B.C.’s leadership in setting EPR policies, enabling it to reduce litter, improve recycling and reap the benefits of a circular economy,” remarks RCA president Jodi Tomchyshyn London. “History has shown that the province will see the triple bottom line benefits from this decision.”

While many other jurisdictions are waiting for federal action on single-use plastic bans and decisions on how to harmonize EPR across Canada, B.C.’s incoming regulation, adding EPR requirements for single-use items and packaging-like products to its residential packaging and paper product (PPP) recycling system, will take effect in 2023. Packaging-like products include food containers, foil and wraps, bags, boxes and objects purchased for the purpose of protecting or transporting commodities. Single-use items are defined in the regulation as a product disposed of after a single use or short-term use, whether or not it could be reused, including straws and items used to stir beverages, utensils, plates, bowls and cups and party supplies.

Extending the regulation to include these items shifts the responsibility to collect and recycle these materials from municipalities (and their taxpayers) to producers. EPR advances a circular economy by encouraging industry innovation and investment to develop collection, sorting, and processing technologies and systems that can turn recyclables into high-quality, in-demand commodities. EPR has saved B.C. municipalities millions of dollars each year and created resilient recycling programs that have withstood massive disrupters in other regions and markets, such as the China Sword and the COVID-19 pandemic.

B.C. also made changes to modernize its deposit-return system for beverage containers, including  enabling a single-tier deposit for all beverage containers (which producers have indicated they will implement this fall) and adding milk and milk alternative containers (e.g., rice milk) to the system by 2022 – one area that Alberta has led for years.

For more information on the B.C. regulation, follow this link: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/oic/oic_cur/0370_2020