The Manitoba government is looking for a way to move the province to full extended producer responsibility, also known as EPR, on certain blue box materials.

Manitoba currently relies on a shared responsibility approach where producers are responsible for 80 percent of recycling costs and local governments have operational responsibility and pay the remaining 20 percent.

The province wants to change that formula by making producers responsible for all costs connected to collecting, transporting, processing and marketing residential packaging and printed paper.

Karen Melnychuk is executive director of Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba (MMSM), the organization that is gathering feedback from municipalities and other stakeholders in the province on how best to transition to an extended EPR model.

"The goal is to assign ownership of the end-of-life materials, or those blue box materials, to producers to manage. It creates some incentive for the producer to also take into account environmental considerations when they are designing their products and packaging as well."

Full EPR already exists in Manitoba with a total of twelve producer responsibility programs in place to manage materials like used tires, lead-acid batteries, oil, containers and filters and paint, to name just a few.

MMSM has been directed by the province to come up with a plan that establishes a full EPR program on residential blue box materials and to submit that plan by November 2021.

Melnychuk points out the transition plan they come up with will take some time to fully implement.

"Our draft plan will receive approval sometime in 2022 and then after that we will need to meet with individual communities to discuss how they want to implement it. So, the actual transition from the shared model to full extended producer responsibility will take a few years because there are contracts in place that communities have right now and we have to abide by those terms. We can't move everybody over to the new model in one day. It will likely happen over a three year timeline."

MMSM currently provides funding for recycling programs in 151 different communities in Manitoba and Melnychuk says getting those communities to full EPR is a major, multi-year undertaking.