21 producer responsibility programs in British Columbia

A two-part, February 2021 series in Waste 360 examines British Columbia's 21 producer responsibility programs as well as Ontario's plans to update their packaging EPR program. 

British Columbia's 21 EPR programs based on product type put the "onus on producers to pay for end-of-life management, producers are left to find the way they think will work best. They hire a stewardship agency to run the program or run it themselves." The BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy "wanted producers to take full responsibility; not just pay the cost. [Government] wanted to get out of managing. And an anticipated benefit was if they were going to pay the tab, they would want to find the most efficient way to run the program." The BC Ministry "reviews and approves the plans, which are up for renewal after five years. They must meet key performance measures, and publicly disclose their annual reports demonstrating they are doing so... The Ministry requires 75% of all packaging to be recycled, and the industry is consistently meeting or exceeding that goal."

"The business opportunities have drawn local companies, meaning plastics from polystyrene to rigids to films are recycled and used in the province... The majority of the materials we collect are destined for local end markets; approximately 92% of it is managed by recycling." 

"While many communities across North America have had to curtail or suspend existing (non-EPR) packaging recycling programs due to limited processing abroad, BC is expanding its program. Over the next two years more single-use items such as plastic stir sticks, cutlery, straws, lunch bags, disposable plates, bowls, and cups, will be collected for recycling. And it will be up to those obligated producers to ensure these materials have minimal contamination and sustainable recycling markets are secured."