MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - New legislation that would create an extended producer responsibility (EPR) framework for plastic producers in Alberta is a welcome step, says Mountain View County Reeve Angela Aalbers.
“The county supported an RMA (Rural Municipalities of Alberta Association) resolution brought forward at the spring conference in 2019 calling on the government to do exactly this,” said Aalbers.
“From our own experience with the Mountain View Regional Waste Management Commission, we know that subsidies are required to run the recycle program for some products collected and that still too many products are finding their way into landfills.
“The hope is that EPR will indeed shift the financial role of recycling some products from the local government and taxpayers to the industry where it belongs.”
The Environmental Protection and Enhancement Amendment Act would form the EPR framework that would create provincial systems for managing single-use plastics, packaging, paper products and hazardous and special products such as household pesticides and solvents, says Jason Nixon, Sundre-area MLA and minister of Environment and Parks.
The legislation would shift the physical and financial role of collecting, sorting, processing and recycling waste to the industries that produce products instead of local governments and taxpayers, he said.
“Right now, and for too long, municipalities and taxpayers have been shouldering the burden of collecting, sorting, processing and recycling waste,” Nixon said. “We’re moving Alberta forward with legislation that will make producers of the waste responsible for the system in a way that creates a big opportunity to diversify the plastics economy.
“An EPR framework would help diversify Alberta’s economy by encouraging companies to find ways to recycle more materials and produce less waste and packaging.”
The framework would also support the transition to a plastics circular economy by growing markets and attracting investments in plastics recycling, he said.
Mountain View County is looking forward to seeing the EPR regulations rolled out, said reeve Aalbers.
“Like most legislation, implementation of EPR through the regulations clarifying where the money goes will ultimately prove if this will benefit municipalities and taxpayers,” said Aalbers.
She noted that Mountain View County has recently formed a joint committee with Olds College to review possible options to enhance the recycling opportunity for agriculture plastics.
“Although the regulations are not intended at this time to include agriculture plastics, we want to be proactive and find solutions for agriculture plastic recycling so that in future these may also be added to the EPR regulations,” she said.
Paul McLauchlin is the president of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta, which represents 69 rural municipalities, including Mountain View and Red Deer counties.
“It will be important to ensure that the EPR makes recycling available to all Albertans,” said McLauchlin.
Marlin Schmidt is the NDP Environment critic. He is calling for EPR regulations to be fast-tracked.
“The UCP has a history of over-promising and under-delivering and this is yet another bill from this government that is no more than a plan to make a plan,” said Schmidt.
“I would like to see the government move quickly on designing regulations for an EPR framework so that we can ensure Alberta is producing responsibility.”