Éco Entreprises Québec (ÉEQ) set to discuss widening the designated material categories under their packaging and printed paper scheme.
by Emma Mundy at 13:04 in Circular Economy, Environmental, Packaging

Éco Entreprises Quebec has released a statement to say that they are currently considering adding containers, packaging and printed matter ​​sold as short-lived products and those produced through the B2B trade to the designated materials classes. This change will contribute to their ongoing efforts to stabilise the materials rates.

Background

EEQ is a non-profit organisation that was created by companies who put containers, packaging and printed matter on the market in Quebec. EEQ collects producer contributions for the materials placed onto the market and uses the contributions to finance the household recycling services in Quebec. Current materials for EEQ include printed matter, and containers and packaging from paperboard, glass, steel, aluminium and plastics. However, in Canada material categories vary by province. Current provinces with regulation include Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

Producers have legal obligations for the packaging and printed paper they place onto the market in those provinces. Although similarities can be drawn between the regulations in Canada and EPR legislation in EU Member States there are also some notable differences. Canadian provinces obligate printed paper along with packaging which captures many different types of businesses and organisations such as retailers, restaurants, importers, manufacturers, government entities, Universities, churches, and wholesalers that supply packaging or printed paper to household consumers. Insurance companies, banks and other financial institutions may also find that they carry an obligation. These companies and organisations may have to join a provincial stewardship organisation and report the types and quantities of packaging and printed paper that has been placed on the market in those provinces and pay fees based on the amounts reported.

Currently in Canada the provinces that obligate packaging and printed paper do so only at a household level. Business to business packaging is currently out of scope. For Quebec, this is the first step to discussing the broadening of the designated material classes by EEQ and shows that they are trying to make the system fairer by including more packaging from more businesses in order to encompass the entire packaging waste system. It will be interesting to see if other provinces follow suit.

The future

The broadening scope targets two types of materials:  Short-lifespan containers and packaging (CP) sold as products and print matter sold as product.

Short lifespan containers and packaging sold as products are containers and packaging:

  • All flexible or rigid material used to contain, protect, wrap or present products
  • Single-use or short-lifespan products whose physical and aesthetic features are altered after the first uses 
  • Sold as products
  • Ultimately purchased by consumers (individuals)  

All printed matter put on the market purchased by a consumer would be included in the contribution.  

The broadening of the categories would include:

  • Printed matter: paper and other cellulose fibres on which a text or image may be printed 
  • Sold as products
  • Ultimately purchased by consumers (individuals)

It is also interesting to note that EEQ are considering whether to issue penalties for problematic or disruptive materials in the system and give eco design credits to encourage better design of packaging. This is currently only seen in the French packaging scheme Ecoemballages through the bonus and penalty system that operates. Italy's packaging scheme CONAI have recently also made changes to charge higher fees for plastic packaging that is not selectable and recyclable, so a penalty in a similar sense. EEQ have stated that they want to analyse the idea of a bonus and penalty system in more detail. 

Materials could be grouped into 4 categories, such as:

  • Recyclable materials that have several outlets and markets
  • Recyclable materials that have a limited number of outlets and markets​​​
  • Materials that are not readily recyclable, with few or no markets
  • Non-recyclable materials

For B2B products EEQ propose a progressive approach by including the highest volume packaging first. This would include; cardboard transportation containers and packaging (boxes) that are designed to facilitate the shipping and handling of a certain number of sales units or grouped packaging. EEQ want to ensure that companies are prepared for the broadening scope of material categories by enabling them to prepare for the changes and ensuring that information on transport boxes remains more accessible.

EEQ will launch a survey in August and September to assess the recycling practices of industry and collect information on municipal services versus private services.

What's next?

The plan is to include all designated materials in Quebec to increase the reported quantities and lower the rates and therefore share costs among more materials and more companies subject to the schedule of contributions.

The discussion meeting will take place in Montreal on 27 September.

Will the discussions lead the way for opening the scope of packaging compliance in other provinces in Canada? 

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