+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 8-18S

Amendments Required for Provincial Recycling Regulations

Date:
March 20, 2018
Expiry Date:
April 1, 2021
Active Status:
Active
Sponsors:
Strathcona County
District:
5 - Edmonton East
Year:
2018
Convention:
Spring
Category:
Environment
Status:
Intent Not Met
Vote Results:
Carried
Preamble:

WHEREAS in 2013, Alberta Environment and Parks completed an extensive consultation on the development of a new recycling regulation that would include the necessary regulatory amendments to existing programs to ensure long term sustainability; and

WHEREAS the result of the consultation was a proposed Designated Materials Recycling Regulation for decision makers’ review that included several changes to Alberta’s existing regulatory framework for recycling materials; and

WHEREAS the proposed changes were intended to:

  • streamline Alberta’s regulatory framework, while reducing solid waste;
  • provide options to shift end-of-life management responsibilities from taxpayers to producers and consumers;
  • consolidate Alberta’s existing recycling regulations under one regulation – the Designated Materials Recycling Regulation;
  • remove specified maximum environmental fees from regulation while still ensuring consumer protection from excessive fees;
  • expand the electronics program to include small appliances, audio/visual equipment, telecommunications equipment and power tools; and
  • expand the used oil materials recycling program to include automotive anti-freeze/coolant containers and diesel exhaust fluid containers;
Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) advocate to the Government of Alberta to make the changes outlined under the 2013 proposed Designated Materials Recycling Regulation.

Member Background:

Alberta has a number of successful recycling stewardship programs, including the following:

  • Beverage Container Recycling Program (1972)
  • Hazardous Waste Legislation (1985)
  • Tire Recycling Program (1994)
  • Used Oil Materials Recycling program (1997)
  • Electronics Recycling Program (2004)
  • Paint and Paint Containers Recycling Program (2007)

Despite the success of these programs, Alberta has the highest per capita waste disposal rate of any province in Canada. In the past, the Government of Alberta had set a goal to reduce the provincial per capita waste disposal rate to 500 kg per person per year by 2010. This goal has not been achieved, nor has the Government of Alberta set new targets or programs to assist municipalities in achieving higher diversion rates from landfills. In 2014, the per capita disposal rate for Alberta was 981 kg per person (Stats Canada), with a provincial diversion rate of only 16%.

In 2013, the City of Red Deer put forward a resolution for regulatory changes. In 2014, the government response indicated that the Province was considering several changes and would engage municipalities when the Province determined its next steps. As of today, the Government of Alberta has yet to take any of the needed steps to resolve this issue.

This issue affects all municipalities in Alberta that provide collection points for materials covered under the province’s programs.

With the exception of the beverage container recycling program, municipalities across Alberta are the collection point for these programs, and thus are the connection between the Province’s regulations and Alberta residents.

Through the recycling fees that are collected at point of purchase for all of these materials, these programs were originally intended to fully fund collection, transportation and recycling. These fees are set in regulation, making it difficult for the stewardship organizations to adjust their programs based on economic fluctuations. As a result, municipalities are left to subsidize these programs in their local communities.

Some economic, environmental and social impacts include:

  • municipalities subsidizing the paint program by about 40-60%;
  • challenges for municipalities to secure reliable collection services for the tire program;
  • areas of the province where oil collection has been discontinued leaving Albertans without an option for environmentally safe disposal; and
  • the continued expectation from Albertans that their municipality will provide diversion services in their community despite difficult circumstances.

Expansion of the existing provincial recycling programs would also assist with waste diversion. For example, many municipalities are already recycling, at their own cost, additional electronic items (i.e. microwaves, power tools, entertainment equipment, etc.) and antifreeze containers that are not part of the province’s current lists.

Provincial programs are being strained financially, adding extra stress on municipalities. It is the right time for the Province to make these regulatory amendments, which would represent an important first step in enhancing Alberta’s waste reduction record.

RMA Background:

RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.

Government Response:

Alberta Environment and Parks

Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) is committed to working with stakeholders to enhance provincial recycling programs. The ministry intends to continue efforts to study other jurisdictional practices to ensure meaningful solutions are created and opportunities to increase Alberta’s recycling efforts are sought.

In the meantime, AEP has worked on ways to enhance our existing recycling efforts through the government-wide review of Agencies, Boards, and Commissions (ABCs). By bringing together recycling programs for tires, electronics, paint, and used oil materials under one management board (Alberta Recycling), the government can act more efficiently and effectively to support Albertans in their efforts to recycle.

AEP is fulfilling the goals of the ABC review by streamlining and saving administrative costs on behalf of Albertans, so that we can free-up more resources for recycling.

Development:

RMA was informed of an upcoming review of Alberta’s recycling systems that was intended to take place in the fall of 2018, but little information is currently known on the status of this review. Until such time that a review is completed, and changes are made to Alberta’s recycling framework that align with the 2013 proposed Designated Materials Recycling Regulation, this resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met.

RMA is active on the Agriculture Plastics Recycling Group (APRG) which recently was awarded $750,000 to initiate a three-year agriculture plastics recycling program.  RMA appreciates the Government of Alberta’s recognition of this important initiative and will continue to work with the government to see to it that a permanent solution to the end-of-life management of agriculture plastics can be found.

Provincial Ministries:
Environment and Parks
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