Yukon government submits proposed environmental law amendments



The Yukon Government has introduced proposals to amend the Environmental Act to support the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the territory.

According to an Oct. 10 statement, EPR is a waste management approach in which product and packaging producers are “legally obligated to ensure that products and packaging are managed responsibly at the end of their lifespan.” It is compulsory.”

The statement says this is a departure from the current waste management approach, which is subsidized by Yukon taxpayers.

When introducing the bill in the Yukon Legislative Assembly on Oct. 12, Environment Minister Nils Clarke said the bill would include “a number of additional steps to enable the introduction of a fully modern Extended Producer Responsibility system. It includes some small but important amendments to environmental law that are needed to improve the environment.” Yukon. ”

The amendments were based on a survey of Yukon residents conducted from November 2022 to February 2023. The purpose of the survey was to gauge public opinion on how the EPR liability framework should work, including which products should be added to the regulation and feedback on technical definitions. .

Natalia Baranova is an environmental protection analyst with the Yukon Government. She said the law was first amended in 2014 to enable EPR. Since then, work has been underway to introduce regulations.

Asked this month how much taxpayer money the EPR scheme was expected to save the government, Baranova said it was unclear what the final figure would be.

“The actual amount will be in the millions of dollars, but I don’t know the exact number,” she said in an interview. news. “In addition to collecting printed paper and packaging materials, the EPR proposes to collect household hazardous waste as well. It costs the government every year to collect and properly manage these materials. This is a program that pays for

Yukoners pay an estimated $2.9 million a year for EPR services, she said.

A statement from the Yukon government said the proposed amendments to the bill would allow the government to establish an effective producer hierarchy, exempt certain producers from the Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme, and allow producers outside of Yukon to It secures the power to ensure that producers are subject to regulation.

“Producer hierarchy is an integral part of the Extended Producer Responsibility framework, meaning that the entity with the most control over how a product or packaging is designed and manufactured is either the brand owner or the manufacturer of the materials the retailer handles. We are aware that it is, and we will sell it,” Baranova said.

He said that in an effective producer hierarchy, the organization with the most control would be the first to take responsibility.

“So we’re looking at a three-tier hierarchy. The top layer is the brand owner, who designs and decides how each item is packaged and the design of each item.” she said, and went on to explain why. Some producers may be exempted from her EPR extension scheme.

“The reason for cascading down the hierarchy is if there is no Canadian corporation or Yukon corporation that has obligations higher up the hierarchy,” she said. “But looking specifically at the exemptions, we are also proposing to exempt small businesses from that obligation. is.”

of news We asked whether the experience of other jurisdictions in the country had been taken into account before planning future amendments to the bill.

Baranova said officials are looking at British Columbia because “they have the most mature program in Canada and it’s literally just across the border.” So while many elements of our regulations are consistent with BC, we have also consulted and built upon other jurisdictions. ”

“We have been able to bring elements of various national programs into Yukon and ensure that we have a system that can operate as smoothly across borders as possible within the regulatory constraints,” she said. Stated.

Minister for Community Services Richard Mostyn said the introduction of this bill was an important feature in the Territory’s approach to developing a standardized waste management system based on shared responsibility for waste management and waste reduction. Stated.

“Through this change, the region will see fiscally sustainable and supportive environmental health and economic benefits,” he said.

The amendments to the bill are expected to be passed in the winter and commit the Territory Government to implementing EPR by 2025.

Baranova said the bill is currently under consideration and aims to be completed by the end of the year. He pointed out that the revised bill does not mean it will come into force immediately, as there will be a two-year transition period before it comes into force.

“During that period, producers and producer responsibility organizations will further consult with stakeholders, including local businesses, on what the program will look like,” she said. “They are going to submit a program plan, called a stewardship plan, to the government for approval. And once we as a government review and approve this program plan, you know, the producers will sign the contract. , we have time to make plans to actually implement these programs.”

“We are very pleased to be taking these steps to introduce a modern recycling system in Yukon, which will include not only recycling but also other waste diversion methods.” And it will prepare us for the future so that we can properly manage the waste generated in the region. ”

Contact Patrick Egwu at patrick.egwu@yukon-news.com.

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