Part II. Learnings from British Columbia: Advice for Transition

In this second installment of CIF’s blog mini-series we continue to share learnings from our engagement with the British Columbia Product Stewardship Council (BCPSC) on their collective experience with transitioning to a full producer responsibility model. Here are this week’s learnings…

Regulation elements can impact how well materials are captured

Targets will help ensure stewarded materials are properly captured (i.e. kept out of other waste streams). Recovery and accessibility targets set at sufficient levels will incentivize collection in the harder to service multi-family and public space sectors. In Ontario, this could also apply to communities of 5,000 or less.  The BC regulation requires a 75% recovery target, and Recycle BC quickly met the goal without servicing all single-family, multi-family, and public spaces.

Watch for how these issues are addressed in the new draft regulations under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act (RRCEA).

In BC, there are incentives available to local governments for streetscape collection of packaging and paper product (PPP), but few have taken up the offer. Some streetscape pilot programs were initiated by Recycle BC and contamination rates were found to be in the 30% range. Targets and a requirement to collect may help foster innovation and improvement in how collection services are provided for hard to serve sites.

Municipal strategies for keeping stewarded materials out of other waste streams require resources

Material bans and ticketing are a means of enforcing proper streaming of materials into the appropriate EPR program. In BC these were the main strategies used to keep PPP out of other waste streams.

In order to implement this strategy, municipal staff and councils will need to work to establish by-laws and communications to make residents aware. To ensure compliance (i.e. to see if residents are setting out materials correctly), the implementation of a complementary clear bag policy or curbside cart inspections prior to collection are necessary.

To allow for continuous improvement, local governments in BC suggest it would be helpful to include regular waste characterization studies or audits of all waste streams as part of the PPP program updates. This would measure the amount of PPP still in other residential waste streams. In turn, this would provide municipalities and producers with another perspective on PPP program performance and a chance to monitor year over year improvements.

It is important to note there are costs to implementing and enforcing proper set out practices and to conducting audits. Annual budget forecasts should be adjusted if municipalities wish to adopt these approaches. As noted last week, knowing your costs is critical for municipalities to help them determine whether to continue their participation in the system post transition.

More to come…

A big thanks to those of you who connected with us after last week’s blog. We’re compiling responses to your questions now. If you haven’t submitted your questions yet, it’s not too late. If there’s anything specific about BC’s PPP program you’d liked to see shared in our blog mini-series, reach out to Jessica Landry. Inquiries and feedback welcome!