January ’22 at-a-glance … environment

Working group to respond to Quebec recycling/reclamation law

An industry coalition, which includes guidance from NAFEM, is forming a working group to assess how to best comply with Quebec’s new recycling/reclamation legislation that took effect Dec. 5. The province’s Ministry of Environment and Fight Against Climate Change (MOE) granted the industry a six-month “tolerance” to meet the requirements of the new rule mandating that sellers have or be a member of a program that allows products to be returned to the seller or a designated recycler that will certify products are recycled in an approved manner. It applies to refrigerators, freezers, refrigerated vending machines, ice machines, food displays, dairy bar equipment, cooling cells, beverage centers and beverage coolers. Excluded are used appliances or anything heavier than 300 kilograms or 660 pounds, walk-ins, or products that are less than 2.5 cubic feet. Those interested in serving on the working group should contact Charlie Souhrada.

Expect extended producer responsibility could impact future product development

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws like the Quebec regulation discussed above also are under consideration in British Columbia and Ontario. In the U.S., two states – Washington and Oregon – implemented EPR laws in 2021 largely focused on packaging waste. California, New York and Maine are considering similar legislation and EPR is expected to become more widespread, both geographically and in terms of covered materials.

EPR laws require the manufacturer of a product to be responsible for its ultimate recycling, reuse or disposal. Already the U.S. has 81 EPR laws covering items like packaging, Styrofoam, paint, electronic waste, carpets and mattresses. EPR is commonplace in the European Union and quickly making its way to the U.S. and Canada

“When manufacturers are responsible for managing their products at end-of-life, they are often motivated to make environmentally beneficial design changes that render products more sustainable,” said the Product Stewardship Institute that advocates for EPR laws.

In response, manufacturers often drive toward voluntary plans that have the same goal of reducing landfill use. Often, funding from these programs support modernizing the recycling infrastructure across states or in local municipalities.

“We continue to see state and local governments grapple with how to fund recycling programs that remove waste from landfills,” said Charlie Souhrada, CFSP, NAFEM’s vice president of regulatory and technical affairs. “We expect they will continue to shift this responsibility to waste producers, including NAFEM members who should be considering end-of-life product management in their product planning.”