Implementation of harmonized Extended Producer Responsibility strategies to incentivize recovery of single-use plastic packaging waste in Canada

Waste Manag. 2020 Jun 1;110:20-23. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2020.05.013. Epub 2020 May 20.


Millions of tonnes of virgin (primary) plastic are produced annually, while recoverable (secondary) plastic rapidly accumulates as waste in landfills and the environment. Single-use plastics (SUPs) have short lifespans, and most of this waste is generated by packaging from global food industries. Food packaging waste comprises approximately one-third (8 million tonnes) of all Canadian municipal solid waste, and only 20% is recovered for reuse or recycling. Extended producer responsibility (EPR) strategies leverage corporate resources to reduce SUP waste generated by consumers. Implementation of EPR strategies allows local jurisdictions to gain greater control over their waste streams. Although Canada has had a national EPR strategy since 2009, it is currently only implemented for packaging in five provinces (e.g., British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Québec), and is currently under development in New Brunswick. In this short communication, a case example of EPR implementation in Nova Scotia is provided which highlights the potential economic benefits for municipalities ($14-17 M CAD in estimated savings), for improved solid waste management and for increasing recycling rates. Further, a regional EPR strategy is recommended for all Atlantic Canadian provinces (e.g., Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia) now that the Canadian federal government has announced a move towards zero plastic waste under the Ocean Plastics Charter.

Keywords: Canada; Extended producer responsibility (EPR); Food packaging; Recycling and reuse; Single-use plastics (SUPs); Zero plastic waste.

MeSH terms

  • British Columbia
  • Ontario
  • Plastics*
  • Product Packaging
  • Quebec
  • Recycling
  • Waste Management*


  • Plastics