Governments across Canada are looking to industry to take on a bigger share of responsibility for the funding and management of recycling programs. From their current focus on tires, used oil, paint, electronics, printed paper and packaging it is expected that government will announce new programs, including apparel packaging, in the next few years.
Placing the responsibility for recycling programs in the hands of industry is not all bad. Industry run programs are typically more cost effective than those run by governments – that said – the costs associated with these programs need to be monitored regardless of who is in charge. In Canada we already have more than 75 recycling programs across the country and RCC is working hard to ensure that costs are contained and that the reporting requirements members face are straightforward and efficient.
And to be clear, the government does have an important and continuing role that it must play in recycling. For example, in Quebec there is a current focus on what’s called ‘orphan materials’. These are products put in blue bins that aren't fully recyclable (and let’s be honest, we’ve all slipped something into a blue bin that we weren’t entirely sure about).
Quebec is looking to industry to pay for the handling of these materials – the costs of re-sorting the materials and disposing of them appropriately. Rather than talking about who is going to pay these costs – why not eliminate the problem in the first place? RCC’s is asking the government to invest in an education campaign to help consumers understand the implications and costs associated with these inappropriate recycling practices.
In BC, RCC has been successful in establishing a more sensible threshold for exemption. Rather than establishing exemptions for retailers based on annual sales volume of $750,000 (as originally proposed), RCC is proposing exemptions be determined as follows:
- Less than $1 million in revenue, OR;
- Less than 1 ton Packaging and Printed Paper (PPP); OR
- Business operates as a single point of retail and not part of a chain, franchise or brand.
Recycling is everyone’s responsibility. RCC is working with governments, stewardship groups and members to harmonize programs, keep costs down, and be smart in how we manage today’s resources to ensure tomorrow’s growth.