What is extended producer responsibility?

Extended producer responsibility creates effective recycling programs that contribute to a circular economy.

Overview

Extended producer responsibility, or EPR, is a policy approach in which producers – the businesses that supply packaging and paper – are financially responsible and accountable for those materials over their full life cycle.  

Recycling programs founded on the principles of extended producer responsibility improve recycling rates and encourage the more efficient use of materials.

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EPR is fundamental to advancing the circular economy

EPR legislation requires producers to take responsibility for the end-of-life management of the materials they supply to consumers.

Regulations are introduced at the provincial level that contain material targets and producer obligations.

Once EPR is implemented in a province, there is a consistent material list and an integrated material management supply chain. Materials are in a constant loop and being reused as recycled content in new packaging and products.

EPR enables innovation, operational efficiencies, increased standard levels and access to materials. It is recognized as one of the most effective mechanisms for improving recycling rates.

EPR in Canada

Find out more about provincial extended producer responsibility regulations for packaging in Canada.

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Principles of extended producer responsibility programs

The following principles contribute to effective extended producer responsibility programs.

Standardized lists

A standardized list of collected materials for recycling in the province (and across the country if possible) achieves economies of scale and program efficiencies, while providing clarity for residents. 

Producer autonomy 

Producers must have the autonomy to design a recycling system that respects local conditions (such as geography, population densities, etc.) while maximizing efficiency and optimizing environmental performance. 

Regulatory fairness 

Regulations must be designed for fairness. All obligated producers need to participate and regulators must be prepared to take appropriate enforcement action to support compliance with the regulation. 

Material value 

Materials must pay their own way in the recycling system. Higher-value materials should not cross-subsidize lower-value materials.  

Accountability 

Producer responsibility program operators and service providers are held accountable, meaning that operators, collectors, transporters, recyclers and processors of end-of-life products/materials are auditable and accountable for their performance. 

Standards 

Appropriate standards are established so that collectors, transporters, recyclers and processors can demonstrate their compliance with international, federal and provincial laws and industry standards where applicable. 

Continuous improvement 

A commitment to continuous improvement and fostering responsible recycling helps achieve higher recycling rates over time. 

Latest updates

Read the latest news about extended producer responsibility programs for packaging across the country.

  • Circular Materials begins the transition to Extended Producer Responsibility in New Brunswick

    First Atlantic Province to introduce Extended Producer Responsibility on packaging and paper Today, Circular Materials begins the transition to extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging and paper products in New Brunswick. This is an important milestone in improving recycling in the province. EPR shifts the financial and operational responsibility of recycling programs to brand owners…

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  • Circular Materials and Circular Economy Month: A Partnership Driving Sustainable Change

    Circular Materials is committed to fostering collaborations that champion our vision and goals. We’re proud to announce our partnership with the Circular Innovation Council’s Circular Economy Month  this October, highlighting our shared dedication to advancing the circular economy for packaging and paper products. Through this month-long campaign, we will collaborate with the Circular Innovation Council in educating and empowering Canadians about the benefits and potential of a circular economy.…

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