Halifax Regional Council considering extended producer responsibility program

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In an effort to manage the cost of managing municipal solid waste generated within the Halifax, Nova Scotia regional municipality, the Regional Council is considering making package producers responsible the their waste.

In a recent report from the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee the utilization of fees on package producers is considered.

The recent report is an update to previous reports and staff presentations outlining the opportunities and challenges for HRM with full Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging and paper products.

EPR is a policy approach in which a producer, who designs and markets a product and/or package, accepts the full cost, risks and liabilities for managing waste at the end of its lifecycle, instead of the municipal taxpayer. A producer has the greatest ability to prevent or reduce waste associated with packaging design.

In 2015, Halifax Regional Municipality spent nearly $110 million on its waste management program. That marked a 50 per cent increase in costs from a decade earlier and almost per cent of its entire budget.

The HRM report draws on the experience in British Columbia where glass bottles/jars, plastic film & bags and Styrofoam products were transitioned from the curbside to a depot drop off model as this was more efficient and cost effective for industry to deliver services.

Concurrently with the HRM Report, Nova Scotia Solid Waste Regional Chairs Priorities Working Group recently led the development of a report entitled: “Preserving the Culture of Recycling: A Proposal for Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging and Printed Paper in NS” (NS EPR Proposal). The working group engaged with Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities (NSFM) members, industry and business stakeholders and submitted the NS EPR Proposal to NS Environment Minister Gordon Wilson on May 30, 2019. The NS EPR Proposal responds to NS Environment’s request for a model that demonstrates consensus amongst municipalities and businesses and has sufficient detail for the province to consider public policy impacts. The report identifies how a model could work for NS to further enhance success in diversion.

Nova Scotia’s solid waste-resource management regions

For the 2018/2019 budget year, the HRM recycling program cost a net $6 million based on cost of collection and processing of $7.8 million and revenues from recyclables of $1.8 million. Through the implementation of an EPR program, the HRM would save $6 million per year is currently spends on the recycling program.