July 16, 2007

CCME endorses Canada-wide principles for extended producer responsibility

The Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment (CCME) has endorsed Canada-wide principles for the design and development of extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs. In doing so, the Council seeks to promote maximum harmonization of EPR approaches across Canada and to provide a level playing field for application of EPR initiatives.

Drafted in consultation with stakeholders, the Canada-wide principles are based on principles originally proposed by the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). Their specific goals are to minimize environmental impacts while maximizing environmental benefits; promote producer responsibility for end-of-life management of products and materials; and encourage design for the environment (DfE).

The 13 principles were developed by the CCME's EPR Task Group and cover general environmental issues, program design and program implementation. EPR programs should reduce, to the greatest extent possible, a product's environmental impact and should be consistent with the 4Rs hierarchy of waste management: reduction, re-use, recycling and recovery of materials and/or energy, says the document.

EPR programs should be designed to transfer end-of-life responsibility from municipalities or other waste management authorities to producers. Transparency should be the fundamental basis for EPR program and policy development, with local governments and other stakeholders engaged in discussion of environmental goals, priorities and program performance measurement. Policy instruments should be flexible and determined on a case-by-case basis. The principles also call for potential programs to undergo a comprehensive analysis to assess whether they are appropriate for EPR and to define the roles of all parties in the product chain.

Implementation principles stipulate that taxpayers should not bear the costs of program management and that the public should have reasonable, free-of-charge access to collection systems in order to maximize recovery opportunities. EPR programs should be evaluated periodically to ensure that they are functioning appropriately, are subject to performance measurement and include accessible, transparent reporting. The principles also emphasize the development of a communication strategy to inform all parties in the product chain, as well as the public, about the program and to enlist their support and co-operation.

The EPR Task Group was established to provide guidance on the development and implementation of EPR and product stewardship programs in Canada. specifically, it has been asked to:

*seek out opportunities to harmonize, make consistent where appropriate, expand, and improve EPR programs;

*develop general guidance on EPR issues;

*find and further explore opportunities to forge strategies for new EPR initiatives; and

*facilitate EPR communications and information exchange among jurisdictions.

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