Overview of Canadian Regulations

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), often referred to as Product Stewardship in Canada, falls under provincial jurisdiction. To date, binding legislation relating to Packaging & Printed Paper (PPP) has been implemented in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan, with more provinces to follow shortly. While some progress has been made toward harmonizing definitions and requirements, many differences still exist between the provincial programs.

Information on producer’s obligations for PPP can be found on the websites of the various stewardship programs, including RecycleBC, Multi-Material Stewardship Western (MMSW), Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba (MMSM), Stewardship Ontario (SO), Éco Entreprises Québec and RecycleMédias (link is external).

Generally, product stewardship for PPP in Canada targets that which goes out a business's front door and home with the customer, rather than what goes out the back door as part of a business's regular operation and recycling efforts. What is considered packaging and printed paper is slightly different in each province and there are many exclusions.

How is Packaging defined?

Materials such as glass, metal, paper, boxboard, cardboard, textile, paper fibre, plastic, or any combination of these used to protect, contain, or transport product to a residential consumer are considered to be packaging.

How is Printed Paper defined?

Printed Paper includes newspapers, brochures, receipts, catalogues, flyers, customer statements, magazines, telephone directories and other branded and printed papers regardless of source. Specific definitions of Printed Paper and Packaging can be found in the websites of each stewardship agency.

How is a Steward defined?

Generally, a Printed Paper and Packaging (PPP) Steward is any organization or company that is a brand owner, first importer or franchisor, which supplies obligated PPP directly or indirectly to residential consumers in that province. Each province has exemptions in place for small businesses, though these thresholds differ.

Stewards' obligations include:

  • Registering with an accredited provincial stewardship organisation
  • Reporting the types and quantities of packaging and/or printed paper supplied that may end up in the residential waste stream
  • Paying fees based on the quantities of packaging and/or printed paper reported to the appropriate stewardship organizations
  • Retaining records related to steward reports for review and verification
  • Reporting and Payment

All current programs establish fee schedules for each year. Fees cover a portion of or the full cost of operating the recycling system for PPP, whether this is operated directly by the Stewardship Program, such as in British Columbia, or by municipalities as it is done in all other programs. The fees also cover program administration and overhead costs. Reporting deadlines vary by province.