Yukon letters

This week’s mailbox: Extended Producer Responsibility

An open letter to the Yukon government and Yukon residents

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is coming to the Yukon! EPR is already implemented in most of Canada, but Yukon will be the first territory to get on board. Raven Recycling has advocated for EPR for many years and we are pleased that Yukon is making this move toward better waste management. Congratulations to the Yukon government for taking action for our environment!

In a nutshell, EPR is a user-pay system. It places legal responsibility for the costs of recycling onto the corporations and businesses that bring packaging, and other material that ends up as waste, into our territory. Under EPR regulation, those entities are called producers. Producers typically embed those costs into their retail prices, so the more you buy, the more responsibility you have for recycling.

EPR is an environmental policy. By making producers legally responsible for the full cost of recycling, EPR can motivate them to design products that last longer, are more recyclable and include more recycled content. This means less pressure on natural resources. As well, EPR could stabilize and improve our recycling system.

What does this mean for Raven Recycling? Currently, there is no obligated funder for recycling and it’s not free. Raven pays part of the cost of recycling packaging with money we make in our bottle depot. We are looking forward to being able to invest that revenue into new Zero Waste initiatives. There is still much work to be done to get us to zero waste, which is a goal we share with all levels of government. EPR will relieve some of the risk and financial burden that Raven has assumed for many years and allow us to move forward.

As an environmental NGO, we have a vested interest in making sure the best version of this regulation is implemented. We want EPR to power a circular economy and provide better access to recycling throughout the territory. We strongly urge Yukon government to make the following provisions in the regulation:

Include as many kinds of material as possible (including glass and styrofoam).

Include high diversion targets for each type of material (as opposed to an overall target which could easily be met by only diverting one type of material).

Provide equitable access to recycling for all people in all Yukon communities.

YG is currently in a period of public consultation for this regulation and we invite all members of the public to join our voice: if you believe that EPR should be written with the environment as a top priority, write to YG’s Environmental Protection Analyst Natalia Baranova (Natalia.Baranova@yukon.ca) and let her know that you support an EPR regulation that includes the points above. To learn more about EPR and to participate in Yukon Government’s online EPR survey, visit: https://yukon.ca/en/engagements/extended-producer-responsibility-epr-yukon.

The deadline to participate is Jan. 27.

Heather Ashthorn

Executive Director, Raven Recycling Society

Megan McLeod

Zero Waste Yukon Coordinator, Raven Recycling Society