When you order the latest gadget online you’re probably not thinking about the impacts on your local recycling system. But that’s something stewardship programs around the world are taking very seriously.
EPR Paves the Way for a Circular Economy
In a previous blog, we talked about how Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs can be key enablers of the Circular Economy.
Under these programs, businesses are obliged to support recycling of their products and packaging. Typically, this is done through legislation that requires companies to track and report the nature and amount of the material they supply to consumers and to pay fees to ensure it is properly managed.
EPR helps keep packaging materials out of landfills and the model has proved effective in Europe and Canada. But people’s shifting shopping habits are creating challenges for the system.
Online Shopping Throws a Wrench in the Recycling System
Today’s consumers have ready access to international sellers through massive online retailers. The problem is, those sites enable sales via non-resident third-party sellers who often have no obligation to comply with the EPR regulations of the country of sale.
People love online shopping because it offers the products they want quickly and often at lower prices. But the EPR system only works when all producers pay their fair share.
We don’t want to end up with a situation where responsible local businesses and local governments have to subsidize recycling of material sent in by cross-border sellers.
– Calla Farn, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance Inc.
What can be done about the packaging and products coming in from online retailers, which inject an ever increasing amount of material into the economy and potentially are not paying their share of recycling costs?
Toward A Solution to Free-Riding
Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance Inc. (CSSA) was launched in 2013 by leading retailers and manufacturers to help them achieve better recycling performance for the packaging and paper materials they supplied to consumers. It provides obligated business with harmonization across provincial programs, along with an easier and more efficient mechanism to understand and to meet their rapidly expanding regulatory obligations across the country.
CSSA is working with its program partners to make material recovery and recycling as affordable and effective as possible, and they advocate for consistent rules wherever possible to ensure a level playing field in which all parties pay their fair share of recycling costs.
With online sales expected to reach 25% of total Canadian retail sales by 2025, there’s an urgent need to find solutions that work.
That’s why we have launched a three-part research project to develop best practices to address the growing problem of free-riders.
– Calla Farn, CSSA
Closing the Loophole
The influx of extra paper, plastic and other packaging from online shopping is disrupting efforts to build a healthy and equitable EPR system, which can help pave the way for the emerging Circular Economy.
It’s a complicated situation and the CSSA’s new e-commerce research initiative will explore everything from the roles of each level of government in Canada to the impact of international trade agreements, and linkages to the collection of tariffs, duties and sales taxes.
CSSA’s research project includes looking at the experience of European countries like Ireland, Finland and others, which have advanced EPR systems and are taking actions to address EPR free-riders. Learning from the European experience will help CSSA develop a Made-in-Canada approach to tackling this issue.
Whether you’re totally new to the concept or an industry veteran, the Zero Waste Conference, in collaboration with the National Zero Waste Council, strikes a balance between theory and action. The conference is your guide to the people, ideas and actions that are having the biggest impact.
2019 Zero Waste Conference:
Mobilizing for Success in the Circular Economy
October 30 – 31, 2019
Vancouver Convention Centre (999 Canada Place)
This post is sponsored by Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance Inc.