City plans to pass recycling buck to packaging manufacturers

Councillors want producers to take over collection and processing

2 min read
Recycling processor Daniel Moore breaks down cardboard boxes outside city hall.
caption Recycling processor Daniel Moore breaks down cardboard boxes outside city hall. If passed, council's new regulations would force packaging producers to foot the bill.
Dylan Taylor

Packaging manufacturers may be picking up blue bags from Halifax curbs by the end of 2025.

The province’s Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program aims to help Nova Scotian cities transfer their waste management responsibilities to paper, plastic or cardboard companies that operate in the HRM and gross over $1 million annually.

The environment and sustainability standing committee, which is made up of several regional councillors, decided unanimously to recommend that council opt into the program during a meeting Thursday.

Shannon Betts, who presented the staff report recommending the motion, says forcing producers to manage the waste they create makes them more likely to ensure that their products can actually be recycled.

“I think that it is really important to have producers put their money where their mouth is,” she said.

According to the staff report, producers could use their experience managing the end of their products’ lives to design new products that are even more recyclable.

EPR would also alleviate recycling’s financial burden on the municipality. The program is projected to save HRM $7,168,500 on their 2025/2026 budget.

Though producers may take on the cost, city workers might still carry out collection and processing on their behalf.

Coun. Tony Mancini was the most outspoken committee member in support of the program.

“It’s the right thing to do to help the environment, the right thing to do to put less in our landfills,” he said in an interview. “It’s a game changer.”

The province’s deadline for opting in is Jan. 1, meaning council will discuss the motion at their meeting on Dec. 12. Mayor Mike Savage has sent a letter to the province supporting the program on behalf of council.

Mancini said the city has been consulting with producers about the policy. “They know it’s coming,” he said.

Further consultation and negotiations would be conducted over the next two years, with a project implementation date of December 2025. The staff report recommends the creation of a “Producer Responsibility Organization” that would act on producers’ behalf and determine how much each one owes.

Similar programs have already been implemented in other provinces, like British Columbia and Quebec. Alberta and Ontario are also gradually rolling out EPR programs over the next two years.

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Dylan Taylor

Dylan Taylor makes music, journalism and music journalism in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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