Response to: newspapers are vital products, not packaging

Response to: newspapers are vital products, not packaging

News Media Canada's opinion piece in the Leader Post includes some inaccuracies about Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). EPR programs extend producer responsibility for products and packages to include end-of-life. They shift the costs from municipal taxpayers to producers/consumers of products and packaging.

Paul Deegan claims that, because newspapers are a product and not a package, they shouldn't be included in EPR programs. While it is true that newspapers are one of the few items in their program that is not a package, most EPR programs are specifically set up to cover products. Saskatchewan has EPR programs for several products: used oil, leftover paint, scrap tires, batteries, hazardous products, even for electronic devices which many of us use to consume the news.

Newspapers are part of the Multi-Material Recycling Program, which covers blue box materials. They are in this program because their useful life is short and similar to that of packages and they accumulate in households in a similar way to packaging.

Deegan states "EPR has one laudable objective: Reduce packaging in the waste/recycling stream."  I disagree. While we hope and expect EPR to lead to better packaging and product design choices, the purpose of EPR is to shift the burden of managing products and packaging at end of life away from taxpayers over to producers. Municipal taxpayers end up paying for recycling and disposing of products and packages that they had no say in the design or use of, and EPR shifts the responsibility back to those who do.

It's been a long-standing position of the newspaper industry that they should not be held responsible for the end of life of their products. There are likely many reasons for this position, but the fact that newspapers are a product and not a package shouldn't be one of them.