Romy Tittel, Leader of the Green Party of Alberta and Catriona Wright, Shadow Cabinet member for Sustainable Towns and Cities, strongly encourages the Alberta Government to quickly adopt the following in order to keep recyclables out of the landfill:
- An immediate plastic bag ban.
- Legislation that puts the onus on producers of the materials to pay for recycling its products.
- Legislation for producers to only create packaging that can be easily recycled and is of low toxicity.
- Legislation for producers to use the least amount of packaging possible.
- Ask citizens to sort their own recycling so it can be used by local recycling companies.
- Ask citizens to choose to purchase items with less packaging as much possible.
- Legislation for more recycling companies to be built in Alberta.
- Finding local and regional markets instead of overseas markets for recyclables.
- Begin a deposit fee system for recyclables much like the current system for cans and bottles.
All of Calgary’s mixed paper and 50% of its plastics were being sent to China for recycling. Edmonton was sending 25% of its plastics to China. As of January 1st 2018 China has banned certain paper and plastic imports. China is choosing to both reduce the level of toxins there and develop its own recycling industries. Calgary currently “has 5000 tons of recyclables and no one to take them” (Calgary Herald, Jan. 9, 2018)
An urgent solution is needed to keep recyclables out of the landfill. As sending recycling to other countries is more carbon intensive, Tittel and Wright recommend selling recyclables to more local markets and building more local or regional recycling facilities.
Additional background information detailing how BC is handling this issue.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
“The producer’s responsibility for reducing environmental impact and managing the product is extended across the whole life cycle of the product.” From Selecting Materials to its end-of-life (BC Ministry of Environment)
There are 22 EPR programs including:
- beverage containers
- packaging and paper
- paints, solvents and gasoline
- used oil and antifreeze
“In 2011 the province amended the Recycling Regulation to make businesses supplying packaging and printed paper responsible for collecting and recycling their products. This was done to shift recycling costs from BC taxpayers to producers, and to give producers more incentive to be environmentally friendly by producing less packaging and waste.” (Government of BC)
In 2012 Multi Material BC (now Recycle BC) created the Packaging and Printed Paper Stewardship Plan.
The New Plastics Economy
Recycle BC, as part of the plastics value chain, has joined an initiative by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation entitled the New Plastics Economy, which is a circular economy for plastics. In this economy plastics never become waste. The Ellen MacArthur foundation will be implementing the plan for the plastics economy as outlined in their report.