Christine Tell was named Environment Minister in the August cabinet shuffle after the current Minister, Dana Skoropad, announced he would not be seeking re-election. Former Environment Minister Warren Kaeding was named as Legislative Secretary to the Minister of Environment at the same time.
Cabinet approved Household Packaging and Paper Stewardship Program Regulations in March. The key change is the switch from shared responsibility between industry and municipalities to financial and operational responsibility shifting solely to industry. Industry was given six months to submit a program plan based on the new regs. MMSW submitted their plan at the end of September and, as of the end of the year, the Ministry hasn’t given final approval.
The province also passed the Transfer Station Code, so there are standard solutions for transfer station developers and operators now. The Ministry also held consultations on the Compost Code, which has not yet been approved. They’ve also started updating the Municipal Refuse Management Regulations, which they expect will take a couple of years.
SARCAN built a shiny new depot in Saskatoon’s north end and opened a new depot in Redvers. They continue to collect electronics, household batteries and paint, with the biggest paint reuse program in the country.
Product Care continues to operate the paint collection program and to implement the province’s household hazardous waste (HHW) regulations. In 2023, they established permanent HHW depots in Yorkton and Fort Qu’appelle as well as a privately run one in Saskatoon, bringing the total to four. The program participated in 54 collection events, fewer than last year, the depots reduce the need for events.
The Ministry initiated a review of the tire stewardship program this year and made some minor recommendations. The program’s northern processor shut down operations after the review. The southern processor is still operating and picking up some of the slack until a new northern processor can be found.
On the organics front, 2023 is the year of the furor over siting compost facilities, with both Saskatoon and Regina processors being denied site approvals by their rural municipalities. The cities have pivoted with temporary solutions, there will definitely be more on the compost siting issue in the years ahead. Curbside organics collection programs are on the increase. In addition to Saskatoon and Regina’s new programs, Yorkton did a pilot program this summer.
Nationally, the Federal ban on selected single use plastics went into effect this year amidst legal wrangling – business groups sued the government, won and now the government is appealing the decision. In the meantime, there are fewer of the targeted single-use plastics around, so that’s positive.
2024 should be an interesting year.