Is another EPR program headed to British Columbia?

Is another EPR program headed to British Columbia?

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

June 4, 2014

British Columbia's hotly debated, producer-led recycling program is only weeks into implementation, but already the seeds of another plan are being planted.

A group called StewardChoice last week announced the specifics of a new program, one which would aim to serve the roughly 100,000 multi-family dwelling units currently not serviced by B.C.'s just-launched extended producer responsibility (EPR) program, Multi-Material B.C. (MMBC).

"Ours would be an option for producers to secure their compliance with recycling regulations," Neil Hastie, development director and spokesperson for StewardChoice Enterprises, Inc., told Resource Recycling. By offering producer-funded services to multi-family homes that are not served by MMBC, Hastie says, the StewardChoice plan will not directly take away from MMBC's roster of participating producers.

"In a way, it will function as a complementary or parallel offering," said Hastie, who is a longtime member of Canada's recycling industry. "We do not ever expect it to be anywhere near the size of the MMBC — this would always be a relatively smaller entry into the packaging and printed paper (PPP) market."

Producers of packaging and printed paper in B.C. are required to fund the collection of at least 75 percent of the material that enters the waste stream each year. MMBC was developed to lead the charge, and it functions as a province-wide organization that represents producers and helps them reach collection goals.

The budding StewardChoice program, which gained inspiration from Germany, where producers have a variety of EPR programs to choose from, could get its start as early as 2015. A draft plan is set to be released later this month, followed by a public consultation period. Eventually, a revised plan will make its way to the Ministry of Environment for official approval as an EPR program for B.C., Hastie said.

A subsidiary of stewardship organization Reclay StewardEdge, StewardChoice estimates 20 percent of the roughly 500,000 multi-family dwelling units are without producer-funded collection.

MMBC's managing director, Allen Langdon, stressed that it was too early to make a judgment on the still-nascent proposal from StewardChoice, but added his group would "welcome lawful competition."

"We look forward to reading … the program plan, once published, and the outcome of the consultations," Langdon told Resource Recycling.

MMBC launched last month after facing opposition from various producer groups, including the newspaper, plastic and grocery industries.

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