Product Stewardship in B.C.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
British Columbia’s Industry-led Product Stewardship programs require producers of designated products to take Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for the life cycle management of their products, including collection and recycling.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) as an environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility, physical and/or financial, for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle. There are two key features of EPR policy:
(1) the shifting of responsibility (physically and economically) upstream to the producer and away from municipalities, and
(2) to provide incentives to producers to take environmental considerations into the design of the product.
The OECD also identified a number of guiding principles for EPR as stated on Environment Canada’s EPR web site.
Canada-wide Action Plan
In October 2009, the Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment (CCME) released a Canada-wide Action Plan for EPR. The Plan aims to increase diversion and recycling of municipal solid waste by better coordinating provincial EPR programs and by extending the application of the principle of EPR as a part of Canadian waste policy. The strategy calls for a number of commitments from provinces and territories, including two lists of products to be considered for implementation.
Phase 1 (by 2015), includes;
- packaging and printed materials,
- electronics and electrical products,
- mercury-containing products (including lamps),
- household hazardous and special wastes, and
- automotive products.
Phase 2 (by 2017), includes;
- construction and demolition materials,
- furniture, textiles and carpet, and
- appliances (including ODS).
For more information see:
Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility
Canada-wide Strategy for Sustainable Packaging
B.C. Ministry of Environment Service Plan
British Columbia is the North American leader in developing producer responsibility programs and already has programs for some of the products within the broad categories identified in the Canada-wide Action Plan. Product categories can include a large number of varied products. The electronic and electrical product category, for example, includes such diverse items as computers, small appliances, power tools, and cell phones. Of the products in the Action Plan, British Columbia currently has programs for electronic and electrical products (including appliances and mercury-containing products), some household hazardous and special wastes and some automotive products.
In 2010/11, British Columbia will consider developing new programs for the remaining products from the Action Plan, such as adding packaging or expanding the programs for household hazardous waste and automotive products. The service plan also commits to adding 2 new product categories every 3 years to BC’s Recycling Regulation.
For more information refer to the Ministry of Environment including Environmental Assessment Office 2010/11 – 2012/13 Service Plan (PDF/1.4 MB/ 50 pages)
The Recycling Regulation: results-based regulatory framework
The Recycling Regulation, under the Environmental Management Act, provides a single results-based framework for EPR in B.C with an emphasis on environmental outcomes and program performance. It includes core requirements applying to all producers and programs for each product category covered by the regulation. The regulation may be expanded to include a new product category through the addition of a schedule for that product or material.
The result-based framework empowers producers to focus on developing collection and recycling management systems that maximise efficiencies, while respecting a pollution prevention hierarchy. Producers and consumers assume this responsibility within a framework characterised by:
- Responsibility for waste management is shifted from general taxpayers to producers and users.
- Responsibility is not shifted to other levels of government without consent.
Level Playing Field
- All brand-owners for a particular product category are subject to the same stewardship responsibilities.
- All consumers have reasonable access to product collection facilities.
- Programs focus on results and provide brand-owners with flexibility to determine the most cost effective means of achieving the desired outcomes with minimum government involvement.
- Product categories are clearly defined to simplify compliance and enforcement and ensure common understanding among program participants.
- Programs are tailored for individual products and encourage continued innovation by producers to minimize environmental impacts during all stages of the product lifecycle, from product design to end of-life management.
Transparency and Accountability
- Program development process is open and provides the opportunity for input to all stakeholders.
- Industry is accountable to both government and consumers for environmental outcomes and allocation of revenue from fees/levies.
Product Stewardship Agencies
A product stewardship agency may be appointed by a producer, to act on its behalf, to undertake duties that include, but are not limited to, preparing a stewardship plan, implementing and managing a program and reporting on progress. The governance structure, operational systems, and fee structures of an agency are determined by the producers as members of the agency.
Producers of designated products are required to either have an approved product stewardship plan or, as an alternative, comply with prescriptive regulatory requirements. A stewardship plan defines how producers will collect and manage their designated products, program objectives, and performance measures. The basic components required in a stewardship plan include:
- Stakeholder Consultation
- Collection System and Consumer Access
- Consumer Awareness
- Program Performance Measurement
- Management of Program Costs
- Dispute Resolution
- Product Life Cycle Management
- Pollution Prevention Hierarchy
The Recycling Regulation requires producers to submit annual reports and to post a copy of the reports on the program's website along with independently audited financial statements detailing all revenues and expenditures for any fees charged and identified on the receipt of sale.
Importantly, the report should document the performance in adherence to the stewardship plan and should specify what the producers will do to reduce or eliminate any gap between actual and projected performance.
Stewardship program funding is the responsibility of the producer. The Ministry of Environment's approach is that product management costs are borne by producers and consumers, not local governments or the general taxpayer. Therefore the producer decides to charge a fee or pay for the costs of the stewardship program with the exception of the minimum “deposit and refund” amounts regulated under the Beverage Category.
Fees are usually charged to fund the collection, processing and recycling of left-over or expired products and can either be visible or invisible. Visible fees are fees charged at the retail level and shown on the consumer’s receipt while invisible fees are included in the cost of product but not listed on the consumer's receipt.
If a producer charges fees that are shown on the consumer's receipt, the Recycling Regulation requires producers to submit an independently audited financial statements showing revenues and expenditures as part of an annual report submitted to the Ministry of Environment.