The Alberta government will soon be testing out new ideas for improving the province’s recycling industry, now that it has launched its proposal for regulatory reform.
Over August 2013, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD) is reaching out to recycling industry stakeholders with six new ideas that could reform the Designated Material Recycling and Management Regulation (Alta. Reg. 93/2004), extended producer responsibility in particular.
“Right now we’re just giving a heads up to a number of stakeholder groups who we’d like to be involved, because there are a number of meetings going on over the summer, and we didn’t want to not let them know this was going on in the fall,” AESRD Spokesperson Jessica Potter told EcoLog News.
Waste diversion progress in Alberta has been slow coming. Calgary, the province’s largest city, only collects recyclables at private houses, with no plans to introduce collection at condo and apartment buildings before 2015. Separate consultations for a multi-residential strategy are underway, but are not part of the new proposal.
However, as of 2011, Alberta’s residential sector has a waste diversion rate of 29 per cent, the fifth highest rate in the country, according to Statistics Canada.
“We’re going to be looking at a number of jurisdictions to see what they’re doing as well, because it helps for consistency,” explains Potter, who says the ministry is not going to discuss the details of the regulatory proposal until the fall 2013 consultation period gets underway.
In correspondence to industry stakeholders, the AESRD says that the proposed changes are intended to reduce waste in Alberta, streamline regulatory framework, and shift costs from taxpayers to producers.
Over fall 2013, Alberta officials will begin shopping a major proposal to consolidate all eight of Alberta’s existing recycling regulations into one regulation to be called the Designated Materials Recycling Regulation. The regulation would include drink containers, used oil, tires, electronics and paint.
The new proposal will also see Alberta wade into extended producer responsibility territory, particularly for packaging and printed paper, as well as household hazardous waste.
The province already launched an e-recycling program earlier in summer 2013.
Like Ontario, Alberta is considering the end of environmental fees (known as eco-fees in Ontario) for products that could have harmful effects, if not recycled. While Alberta’s exact proposal for the process has yet to be released, it is likely to mirror Ontario’s current proposal of making producers build the cost of recycling into a product’s sticker price.
The thinking here is that producers will be more inclined to lean towards design for the environment and keep costs down, as opposed to establishing a static fee that consumers would absorb. It also avoids pricing surprises at the checkout counter.
“The Recycling Council of Alberta is very excited by these developments, and urges its members to become fully engaged in the upcoming consultations,” the council wrote in an August 2013 statement to its members, many of which will be the core group to weigh in on the new proposal.
The AESRD says Alberta’s new recycling proposal is intended to advance the province’s 2007 Too Good to Waste strategy. One of the keys to that goal will be the province’s aim to expand the scope of its newly established e-recycling program. The province proposes to add audio/video equipment, power tools, telecommunication equipment and small appliances to that list.
The province’s other proposed expansion is for its used oil recycling program. The AESRD wants to include other automotive fluid containers, and is proposing a way to have companies, or potentially consumers, cover a larger portion of the recycling costs.
“Enabling EPR [extended producer responsibility] will provide an additional tool, within a suite of tools, for addressing waste in Alberta,” says the AESRD.
To sign up for the recycling consultation process with the AESRD, please send your contact information to AESRD Waste Reduction Specialist Giselle Beaudry at Giselle.Beaudry@gov.ab.ca.