As Ontario works towards its promised new law on waste diversion
and recycling, it's helpful to look at European experience. The
European Union has far more experience than Canada in a wide range
of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) systems for waste such as
paper, packaging, batteries, oil, electronics and end of life
Despite an extensive investigation, the EU found a severe lack
of comparable information to evaluate either the economic or the
technical performance of Europe's dozens of EPR schemes:
economic: there is a lack of transparency regarding the
financial aspects (fees and costs) of EPR schemes (costs are not
always aggregated at a national scale), the link between the fees
paid by the producers and the costs they are supposed to cover, or
general access to the financial information and flows;
technical: data regarding quantities put on the market, waste
generated and collection and treatment are hardly comparable, being
calculated in very diverse ways, with some quality issues
They did find that EPR cost and effectiveness varied widely
across and within waste categories. On portable batteries, for
example, collection rates vary from 5% (MT) to 72% (CH), and
average fees paid by producers vary from €240 (FR) to
€5,400 (BE) per tonne.
The study team concluded:
No single EPR model emerges as the best performing and the most
The best performing schemes are not, in most cases, the most
Fees paid by the producers vary greatly, reflecting differences
in scope and cost coverage, or in the actual net costs for
collection and treatment of waste, or both. The reasons for the
variance often lack transparency.
There is no clear evidence of a strong positive impact of EPR on
the eco-design of the products.
There is no correlation between cost / effectiveness and whether
the EPR system is physically operated by governments, including
municipalities, and/or industry.
Costs and performance are influenced by the design of each EPR
scheme, but also by external factors, such as:
Population density and country geography;
Historical development of the waste management
Value of secondary materials on the national market;
Awareness and willingness of citizens to participate;
Existence of complementary waste policy instruments, especially
economic instruments like pay-as-you-throw schemes and landfill
The authors make the following common sense recommendations,
none of which are satisfied by Ontario's current Waste
Diversion Act, 2002:
The definition and objectives of EPR should be clarified.
The responsibilities and roles of each actor should be clearly
defined along the whole product life cycle.
The design and implementation of an EPR scheme should at least
ensure the coverage of the full net costs related to the separate
collection and treatment of the end-of-life products. This includes
the collection, sorting and treatment costs of separately collected
waste management minus the revenues from recovered material
The fees paid by a producer to a collective scheme should
reflect the true end-of-life management costs of its specific
A clear and stable framework is necessary in order to ensure
fair competition, with sufficient surveillance and equal rules for
all, supported by enforcement measures (including sanctions).
Transparency is required on the performance and costs of EPR
Government and industry should be co-responsible for the
monitoring and surveillance of EPR schemes, and should ensure
adequate means for enforcement.that adequate means for enforcement
are in place. States and dustry should be co-responsible.
Will Ontario's new waste diversion law follow these
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