Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is the principle that the companies that put products on the market should be responsible for the full life-cycle of those products and packaging. By making them responsible, they have more incentive to make less waste, and to recycle more. Ideally, companies start to design products that are less toxic, more recyclable, or more durable, to avoid the waste costs they have to pay.
EPR is a long-standing concept that has been used around the world - countries in the European Union have had EPR policies for more than 30 years! EPR is one way to create a 'Circular Economy' or to push for Cradle-to-Cradle design.
While Ontario has had EPR policies and programs for more than a decade (see the examples below), not all costs and not all waste and materials are covered.
The good news is that the new Waste Free Ontario Act commits to shifting Ontario's waste policies fully to EPR. Passed in the summer of 2016, new regulations that will shift how waste is managed and who pays for it will be developed and passed in the coming years.
Examples of EPR in Ontario:
- The Beer Store reduces waste by refilling beer bottles up to 18 times! They charge and refund a deposit on all beer bottles sold - keeping bottles out of city recycling systema. They collect more than 99% of refillable bottles they sell each year!
- Ontario's Blue Box program was started as a partnership between municipalities and companies to cover the cost of recycling packaging the companies sell. Companies currently cover less than 50% of the cost of collection and recycling of everything in the Blue Box - but the Province is planning to increase that to 100%.
- The Ontario Government requires that tire manufacturers ensure that the tires they sell get safely recycled - now Ontario has one of the best tire recycling programs in the world - with a 100% recycling rate!
TEA, working with other Provincial and National environmental organizations, will continue to monitor Provincial policy and advocate for strong EPR.
TEA also advocates for EPR policies that the City of Toronto can pass at the city level.
What You Can Do
- Stay up-to-date on provincial and municipal decisions on EPR by subscribing to TEA's email newsletter.