Author: sEaNERGIA Baltic Cluster
Amongst several federal and provincial environmental and climate related policies, Canada’s drive towards a circular economy has been partially led by the Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment’s 2009 Canada Wide Action Plan. The initiative was introduced across provinces to focus on products and packaging waste diversion while reducing public expenditure and encouraging innovation and new jobs through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs. As per the Conference Board of Canada (independent, not-for-profit applied research organization), beyond the environmental burden of waste, governments are keen to pass their $3.2 billion waste management cost burden onto producers. It was needed as indeed, a 2013 Conference Board study ranked Canada as 15th of 17 leading industrial nations in terms of solid waste per capita. With EPR programs growing from 33 product categories in 2009 to 94 categories in 2014, governments have actively sought to make industry environmentally and financially responsible for the costs related to collections and recycling. EPR programs across Canada have achieved some success in terms of diverting end-of-life materials such as e-waste, beer packaging, batteries and tires and they seem to be making a modest impact to date with diversion rates improving from 21.6% to 25.2% between 2002 and 2012 according to Statistics Canada. Current Canadian EPR programs, despite challenges, are considered by industry leaders as a good foundation to build upon in order to further drive producer responsibility in the future. But, with a significant amount of waste still going to landfills, governments are expected to further develop and tighten EPR policies, harmonize country-wide EPR approaches and launch new zero waste strategies to reduce waste, increase diversion rates and place the cost burden on industry while shifting towards a circular economy.