Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): Canadian Updates and Prep Advice


In case you missed it, as we’ve entered 2024, we are now one year closer to extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging in the United States. But that’s not all. Extended producer responsibility laws are also evolving in Canada and there are major changes coming in the European Union.  

If you sell a product that is in a package, as most are, please take a moment and read this update. Under EPR legislation, producers are defined broadly as the entity that places the packaging in the market which includes brands and importers. 

A frequent question is “How do they define recyclable?” Details are provided below. 

PART 2 – Canada

Canada, like the United States, allows each province to implement its own waste management and recycling programs. The provinces of British Colombia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Alberta, Quebec, and Nova Scotia have legislation and regulations that provide for either full or partial funding of the packaging recycling system by obligated businesses. 

In 2019, the Canadian Council of Environment Ministers published its Canada-wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste. A key component of the plan called for a transition from stewardship programs to full extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs in all provinces. As part of the transition, a guidance document was prepared to help achieve harmonization throughout the 11 provinces.  

To date, only British Columbia has completed its transition full EPR. Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan are making the transition from cost-sharing to full producer-responsibility models.  


Canada’s most populous province has begun the transition. It is being phased in, community by community, through the end of 2025. Responsibility is shifting from Stewardship Ontario to the Resource Productivity & Recovery Authority. 

Under the transition, producers of “Blue Box materials” are now obliged to cover 100% of the packaging waste management costs through a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO). In Ontario, there are currently three PROs that producers can choose from.


In 2021, the Act to amend mainly the Environmental Quality Act with respect to deposits and selective collection was passed and requires that a non-profit body (PRO) be named to take on the responsibility for developing, implementing, and financing all actions necessary to ensure the operation of the deposit and selective collection (recycling) systems.  

Recyc-Quebec has named two designated management organizations (DMO). Eco-enterprises Quebec (EEQ) to manage the selective collection system and The Quebec Association for the Recovery of Beverage Containers will manage the deposit return system. Under the modernized system, the DMO will manage the collection, sorting and bailing of recyclable materials. 

A full transition to a producer funded modernized selective collection system is expected by 2025. 

British Columbia

In place since 2014, British Columbia’s Packaging and Paper Product Extended Producer Responsibility Plan was the first EPR program in Canada. 

The Environmental Management Act defines packaging as “a material, substance or object that is used to protect, contain or transport a commodity or product, or attached to a commodity or product or its container for the purpose of marketing or communicating information about the commodity or product. This definition includes primary, secondary, tertiary, and service packaging.  

In British Columbia, recyclable packaging means a product or substance that has been diverted from disposal and is managed as a marketable commodity or is being used in the manufacture of a new product that has an established market or is being processed as an intermediate stage of an existing manufacturing process. The program accepts one of the widest assortments of packaging, flexible and single-use items included.  

RecycleBC has an impressive track record. Since its inception in 2014, it has met or exceeded its recovery rate target every year, even for plastic packaging.


Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba (MMSM) is in the process of transitioning its Packaging and Printed Paper Program to a full industry-funded recycling program. Under the previous program, industry funded 80% of the costs associated with recycling. 

Under the transition plan, MMSM will become the one and only PRO for Manitoba. MMSM will be responsible for setting a harmonized list of materials acceptable for recycling throughout the province. 


In Saskatchewan, Multiple Material Stewardship Western has produced its draft program plan. The plan is very similar to Manitoba’s. It is scheduled to be implemented in phases, beginning in 2024 and continuing through 2026.  

British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan are all working with Circular Materials. Their 2023 fee schedule is available here


In 2022, the Alberta government passed a new regulation which introduces an extended producer responsibility (EPR) framework for products, packaging, and paper (PPP) in the province.  

The transition will begin in 2025 and take about 18 months to complete. Producers are required to register with the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA). Circular Materials is the national not-for-profit organization responsible for implementing and managing the new recycling system for single-use products, packaging and paper products in Alberta. 

New Brunswick 

The province of New Brunswick is also amid a transition to an EPR program for packaging and paper products. Brand owners are now required to register with Recycle NB

Circular Materials has been designated the PRO for New Brunswick. The information on acceptable materials is not detailed. 

Nova Scotia

The province of Nova Scotia is moving quickly to implement its EPR program. Established by law in 2021, the program will be fully implemented by the end of 2025. At the end of 2023, regulations were published requiring the first reports in 2024.  

There are not many details other than producers must register with Divert NS, the program administrator. PROs have not been named. Recyclable materials have not been defined. 

 So, there is a lot of activity in Canada to try to harmonize the Blue Box programs into EPR programs. If this was interesting, you might want to review PART 1 – United States

Coming Up Next

In PART 3 – European Union, We will dive into the changes as the European Union moves from an EPR directive to an EPR regulation. The good news is that the regulation will bring harmony to the member states.  

In PART 4 – Getting Prepared, We will offer a roadmap on how to you can get ready for EPR. 

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