GreenYes Archives
[GreenYes Archives] - [Thread Index] - [Date Index]
[Date Prev] - [Date Next] - [Thread Prev] - [Thread Next]

[GreenYes] Fw: Canadian EPR Update
As 'extended producer responsibility' for post-consumer 
products and packaging (EPR) inevitably advances in the 
United States (it is increasingly the norm in Europe and many 
other places), this report from Canada describes the kind of 
industry response to be on the lookout for.  Recyclers need to 
hold the line on EPR = industry-funded take-back programs, 
period.  The current embracing of "shared responsibility" 
schemes by EPA and state governments can quickly lead to 
the kind of greenwashing being peddled in Canada to 
prevent new or dilute excellent existing EPR systems.
/bill sheehan
February/March 2001 
Late last year a group calling itself "PRO BC" (for 
Producer Responsibility Organization of British 
Columbia) introduced itself with a short document that 
commented that the province has had "no recent 
initiatives to deal with solid waste." It then offered its 
"vision" to "re-establish British Columbia as a leader in 
recycling and solid waste management by developing a 
simplified, convenient and cost-effective mechanism 
through which individual citizens can fulfill their desire 
to practice a greater degree of environmental 
Hmm. This "vision" might have struck bureaucrats as 
drug-induced since B.C. already has Canada's highest 
per capita waste diversion rate (according to just-
released StatsCan data). Its pioneering product 
stewardship laws have set the pace for the rest of the 
country. These include the recent expansion of deposits 
to all containers -- including polycoat, but not milk -- 
and model programs to recover tires, waste paint, used 
oil and other household hazardous wastes. 
If it ain't broke, why fix it? 
The first clue is the PRO BC team itself which is 
comprised of a former president of Nova Scotia's 
Resource Recovery Fund Board, a vice president from 
GPC Canada, a vice president from CSR: Corporations 
Supporting Recycling and the current president of 
Encorp Pacific (Canada). It's no stretch to think that this 
group represents the interests of companies that are 
philosophically opposed to deposits and other aspects 
of B.C.'s system. 
The second clue is that the name derives from PRO 
Europe -- the group that oversees industry participation 
in waste-diversion programs there under the "Green 
Dot." In Germany this signifies that a producer has paid 
the entire cost of handling its packaging in the waste 
stream. And it's no coincidence that at the same time as 
PRO BC got started, Ontario's Waste Diversion 
Organization (WDO) -- which is managed by CSR -- 
was in the final stages of negotiating the acquisition 
from PRO Europe of the Canadian rights to its Green 
Dot symbol. 
Add it all up and it appears that industry plans a 
national expansion of the shared industry/government 
funding model for waste diversion that it developed 
recently for Ontario, where the deposit system has been 
dismantled. The Green Dot will lend credibility to an 
exercise that is completely different from European-
style extended producer responsibility. 
Policymakers outside Ontario should therefore look 
closely at recent developments in that province. 
On December 21, 2000, Ontario Environment Minister 
Dan Newman announced that he will act on the final 
recommendations of the WDO -- a year-old group that 
he established to consult with stakeholders and devise a 
long-term financing arrangement for curbside recycling. 
New legislation will establish the WDO as a permanent 
entity, support a 50/50 cost-sharing agreement between 
municipalities and industry for the Blue Box, and 
provide a mechanism to ensure that all affected 
industries pay into the program. 
The ministry is consulting further with some industry 
groups that were caught off-guard by the 
announcement, but Mr. Newman's acceptance of the 
WDO proposals is a victory for packaging producers. 
The "basket of goods" recycling approach will be 
entrenched and the grocers' and soft-drink companies' 
war against deposits will be complete. (Deposits 
weren't even mentioned in the WDO's final report.) The 
sharing of costs is a real bargain for industry. After the 
Liquor Control Board of Ontario's annual $5-million 
contribution is factored in, industry's portion for 2001 
amounts to about $16-million spread among the many 
packaging producers -- a minor dent that will be passed 
on to consumers unnoticed. 
Critics say the scheme is flawed. The cost to landfill 
packaging that's not recycled will be paid for 
completely by taxpayers, and this portion is high 
because recovery rates are low in deposit-free Ontario 
for certain materials. For example only 36 per cent of 
PET plastic is recovered in Ontario, whereas 66.6 per 
cent is recovered through B.C.'s deposit system. 
There's no added incentive for brand owners to further 
mitigate the environmental impact of their packaging, 
since the WDO will determine what producers must 
contribute to the scheme based on total sales. This 
differs completely from the PRO Europe system in 
which producers pay the cost of actually recovering 
their packing from the waste stream. (A strong 
incentive for eco-efficient packaging or its total 
As our regular contributor Clarissa Morawski pointed 
out in an article for the January edition of Municipal 
World, the WDO's key recommendation is that "the 
only way for Ontario to achieve a target of 44 per cent 
diversion (50 per cent was considered too expansive) is 
to focus attention on organic diversion (food and yard 
waste), which by weight comprises the biggest portion 
of the waste stream." [emphasis added] 
The WDO plan limits costs to industry and makes 
municipalities completely responsible for further waste 
diversion achievements and the funding of these, 
mostly through organics. It's worth noting that Ontario 
municipalities paid $79-million for waste diversion in 
2000, including organics, hazardous waste and Blue 
Box collection. In the new scheme, industry will 
continue to pay only its half of net recycling costs. 
Municipalities, meanwhile, will see their total diversion 
costs escalate from $58.3-million in 2001 to $153-
million in 2005. 
Germany's packaging ordinance gave industry specific 
diversion quotas -- such as glass (75 per cent), fibre (70 
per cent), aluminum and plastic (60 per cent), etc. -- but 
didn't dictate how to achieve them. The targets must 
simply be met and documented. The arrival of the 
Green Dot in Canada won't herald such environmental 
standards. Instead, it will only signify industry's public-
relations success. 

[GreenYes Archives] - [Date Index] - [Thread Index]
[Date Prev] - [Date Next] - [Thread Prev] - [Thread Next]