1.1 What is product stewardship?

The terms “product stewardship” and “EPR” (Extended Producer Responsibility) are often used interchangeably. Both phrases try to capture the concept that businesses assume responsibility for the impact of their product and/or packaging on the environment after it is discarded by consumers regardless if whether it is managed in the waste, organics or recycling stream.

Provincial recycling regulations are designed to ensure businesses accept this responsibility. It typically means that financial responsibility for “end-of-life” management of these materials is transferred from taxpayers (who pay for residential waste management services) to the brand owners and first importers that directly or indirectly supply the designated materials to residential consumers.

Globally speaking, product stewardship and EPR are not new concepts. Jurisdictions around the world have been implementing stewardship programs for many years, with some in place since 1995.

Currently, in Canada, BC, SK, MB, ON and QC have enabling legislation and provincial regulations that transfer responsibility for either fully or partially funding the management of packaging and paper products from local governments to the businesses that supply these materials to the residents of those provinces.

Please note that this guidebook covers steward obligations in BC, SK, MB and ON. For more information about your business’s potential obligations in Quebec, please visit http://www.ecoentreprises.qc.ca/home.