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In 2015, Canadian Council of Ministers for the Environment (CCME) renewed their ongoing commitment to implementing extended producer responsibility (EPR) with the goal of realizing consistent environmental standards and practices.

CCME’s Waste Management Task Force (Project Team) is working with stakeholders towards developing the key elements of EPR and product stewardship programs. A report presenting the key elements of Canadian EPR and product stewardship programs for what is designated as Phase 1 materials is expected by March 4, 2016.

EPR is viewed as a means of forcing producers to decrease the total environmental impact by shifting responsibility to the producer for the entire life-cycle of its product. This means that producers will not only be responsible for manufacturing and distribution but also take-back, recycling and final disposal. In other words, producers will need to take a cradle-to-grave approach in the production of their products.

In October 2009, CCME approved a Canada-wide Action Plan for EPR. CCME released a progress report in 2014. The Action Plan contains a commitment to the promotion of a harmonized approach to EPR policies and programs across Canada. CCME defined EPR as “a policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the postconsumer stage of a product’s life cycle.”

EPR shifts the costs associated with end-of-life management of products from municipal governments and taxpayers to producers and consumers while at the same time resulting in a reduction in the amount of waste ending up in landfills and increasing producers’ awareness of end-of-life management in their products. EPR has been used throughout the world and is supported by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Phase 1 product categories set out in the 2014 CCME Action Plan include: packaging (all packing being handled by municipalities or generated from the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors such as plastics, steel and aluminum cans, glass bottles or jars, aseptic (juice) boxes etc.); printed materials; mercury-containing lamps and other products; electronics and electrical equipment; household hazardous and special wastes; and automotive products (used crankcase oil, filters and containers, lead acid batteries, lamps, tires, refrigerants and anti-freeze, brake, transmission, other fluids and their containers).

Optimistically, the end result may lead to producers taking more responsibility for the type of packaging used in products and its ability to be efficiently and effectively recycled.

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