St. Albert will be joining other Alberta municipalities in researching ways to shift the costs of managing recyclable materials back to those who produce them.
Back in March 2017, Calgary called on all Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) members to join together in lobbying the province to establish extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation in Alberta. The idea is that by working together (which includes companies) the responsibility of recycling items like cereal boxes and other materials will shift from municipalities to those who actually produce the goods.
During Monday’s council meeting, Coun. Ken MacKay, at the request of Mayor Cathy Heron, put forward the motion to support the province-wide initiative. The idea received unanimous support.
“When we run our (Mike Mitchell Recycling Depot), we collect tires and paint there – but who pays for that? We’re paying for that,” Heron said.
“When we do extended producer responsibility, the responsibility is on the producer. It is up to them how they deal with it. They may have to set up their own collection site. Calgary is taking on the work that the province should be doing.”
At the moment, the city isn’t contributing any money toward the research and development of a report on EPR. Instead, AUMA is footing the lion’s share of the roughly $150,000 study with Calgary and the Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance helping out. The city’s role in this will be to provide data for the research and attend some meetings if necessary.
Heron said the more municipalities that sign up to support Calgary’s efforts, the better the outcome will be.
“The Walmarts and Costcos of the world are putting those prices onto the products we’re already buying in Alberta,” she said.
“You're paying twice. You are paying at Costco for the elevated price of the product because they have to dispose of it in other provinces. You are also paying for it on your recycling bill through the City of St. Albert.”
Heron added the goal is to eventually have producers take the step to change the material packaging is made up of so it is easier to recycle.
MacKay stressed this move would be the opposite of imposing a tax on residents.
“It removes quite a bit of the financial burden off of municipalities,” he added.
Coun. Jacquie Hansen, who called in to the meeting, said the initiative is a great opportunity for the city.
A report on EPR is expected to come back to the city later in October.
The city is also conducting a report on a single-use waste reduction strategy and chief administrative officer Kevin Scoble said he believes an EPR initiative would fit into what administration is aiming to do. More details are expected to be in the city’s latest corporate report, which will be presented to council sometime in early March.