July 22nd, 2024

Province needs to do plastics recycling the right way

By Lethbridge Herald on June 23, 2022.


Extended producer responsibility regarding paper and packaging, here’s how it works:

A product – say a four-litre plastic jug of soap made by a firm like Proctor and Gamble is sold to Alberta Retailers and Wholesalers and a fee is charged to the manufacturer to recycle the packaging which is the jug and the cap.

The fee (for the jugs) would be used to have them collected, sorted and sent to a firm who could clean, granulate and pelletize for reuse. The cost to have this done would be added to the cost of the jugs to the consumer. 

In other words, the consumer will pay in a roundabout way to have the jugs recycled – a hidden charge.

An administrative group would need to be set up with a board of directors, an executive director and staff. They would receive the money and pay the collector – for example, the City of Lethbridge to collect and sort the jugs out of the mix and the transportation to the processor. 

Here is the rub – we already have a good market for paper – be it cardboard or newsprint or office paper and we are now getting a good dollar for most of the plastics which is jugs and bottles.

We have a system in place in Alberta to collect and recycle beverage containers, tires, paint pails and paint, electronic devices and used oil. We know what it is costing us, as it is up front and in our face. How is adding more bureaucracy good for us?

The two waste stream items that the City of Lethbridge cannot seem to handle in their blue bin recycling system are plastic bags and expanded polystyrene( polystyrafoam). These items we must take to the drop depots – you know, the places we used to take everything we wanted recycled – the depots that our expensive (less than efficient system) was supposed to eliminate. If the Alberta government wants to implement a EPR system for Alberta I suggest they take a good hard look at it and do it right.

Grant R Harrington


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EPR as I understand it will collect money from the company for the handling of the waste. The money will be used to pay the city for the costs of recycling and eliminating the efforts made by each municipality to find a market for the recycled materials.

Polluters pay and overhead costs for the city are reduced. The additional costs (pennies per product for the consumer) may encourage manufacturers to reduce their waste in product design – hence the ‘responsibility’ in EPR. Classic ‘sending the right market signals for economic externalities’.

By the way, Grant, the recyling depots were never planned to be eliminated. And it appears that the EPR public response has been ongoing for three years – did you participate? A day late and a dollar short again, Grant?