StrategyCorp February Newsletter: From Trash To Cash

From Trash To Cash: The Transition to a Circular Economy

Diving into what today’s news means for public policy, our clients, and our world. Subscribe now.

Canada is undergoing a transformation in how we manage our waste – here’s what that means for you.

Canadians produce 36.1 metric tonnes of waste per person, the most in the world. While our abundant land gives us more options than most other countries, a transition to a more circular economy is now underway, driven by both the environment and the economy.


It’s a theory of production, consumption, and waste management which treats waste as a resource, encouraging recycling, resource recovery, and products that are designed and manufactured in ways that plan for future reuse and recycling.

From an environmental perspective, the upside is straightforward—a lower ecological impact. The economic impacts are more complex but offer enormous potential in the right policy framework. (This is why, for example, the former Ontario Waste Management Association has rebranded itself as Waste to Resource Ontario, reflecting a shift in industry priorities.)

Canada’s transition to a more circular economy will touch all three levels of government. With Canadians spending $2 billion on waste management in 2020 and costs continuing to rise, these changes will be economically significant.

What We’re Tracking This Month


One approach that is considered central to creating a more circular economy is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). EPR ensures the companies that make and sell a product are responsible for the entire lifecycle of that product and its packaging.

While this cost typically gets passed on to consumers, it does create incentives for producers to improve recycling rates and create products which are easy to recycle. In some cases, this means municipalities (and municipal taxpayers) will no longer pay a portion of the cost of curbside recycling programs. In Ontario, replacing the current Blue Box Program with a producer-run one could ultimately save municipalities tens of millions per year.

  • ASK A PRO: All provinces in Canada are expected to have EPR programs in place for paper and packaging by 2027. Producers Responsibility Organizations (PROs) are private non-profit consortiums of major industry players—typically from the food, beverage, and consumer product sectors—set up to manage and implement EPR policies and be a government partner in ensuring that producers meet their obligations.
  • PRO TIPS: Transitions to the EPR model are already underway in several provinces. In Ontario, Circular Materials is the PRO leading the way on the province’s New Blue Box program, while in Quebec, Éco-Entreprises Québec was selected as the province’s PRO in 2022 and has already begun implementing its mandate to run the province’s recycling system, for which it will be fully responsible beginning in January 2025.
  • THINKING OUTSIDE THE (BLUE) BOX: These developments are just the beginning. While EPR programs will shift how consumer waste is managed, waste from the industrial, commercial, and institutional (IC&I) sector which produces the greatest share of our waste – is just starting to get attention. Éco Entreprises Quèbec has a mandate to address requirements for both post-consumer and IC&I materials while British Columbia recently completed a study with the Canada Plastics Pact exploring what is required to address IC&I materials.


The latest tech advancements have allowed waste byproducts to turn into energy. Anaerobic digestors turn organic matter, such as food or farm waste, into energy. Landfill gas capture is another strategy, where gases produced by decomposing landfill waste are captured and converted into energy. Both methods primarily rely on turning methane into fuels for transport trucks or home heating.

  • PROVINCES STEP UPBritish Columbia and Quebec have created incentives intended to spur investment in methane capture technology; they offer clear offset programs for projects which reclaim or destroy methane from waste. Other provinces will be closely watching these programs as they consider their own.
  • TAKING A DIVERSION: Policies are also focused on diverting waste before it even arrives at a landfill. This entails improvements in post-consumer sorting and material recovery—but starts with enhancing consumers’ ability to properly separate recyclable (and identify non-recyclable) materials.
    • Making a Bin Impact: You’re going to see lots of public education campaigns like this one from Éco-Entreprises Québec (EEQ) in the coming months. As part of the shift to EPR, what goes in the blue box will be standardized across provinces.
    • Your Call2Recycle. The shift to recovering more from household waste is only as good as consumer behaviour. The hope is that with greater education and standardization, it will also become common knowledge for how to deal with currently confusing categories like household batteries. Short answer: take them to a drop-off site. Long answer: Keep reading—more on this later in the newsletter, featuring Call2Recycle.
  • FILLING UP: Landfills are facing increased pressure, and landfill capacity in many jurisdictions, including Ontario, haven’t kept pace with demand from a growing population. South of the border, we’ve seen Michigan propose a nearly 1,300% increase to its landfill tipping fees for waste that’s trucked into the state and Maryland introduce a bill intended to charge more for landfill waste to fund organics recycling infrastructure.


THE FEDS ARE IN: The federal government’s role in the waste and recycling space is expanding. While waste collection and recycling are provincial responsibilities, Ottawa has been taking a more active role on environmental initiatives already impacting the sector. The single use plastics ban may have been overturned by the courts (still pending appeal), but there is plenty that is still moving forward:

  • THE DIRT ON LANDFILLSThe Federal Government has recognized the significant climate impact of methane being released by both operating and closed landfills and are expected to soon announce regulations intended “to reduce methane emissions from Canadian landfills to the greatest extent that is technically and economically achievable.”
  • LESS IS MORE: The Federal Government undertook public consultations regarding setting targets of 50 per cent of plastic packaging to come from recycled content by 2030. The policy’s intent is to limit the ecological impact of plastic production and create market incentives for investing in recycling infrastructure and innovation as well as making packaging itself easier to recycle. However, the ability of the government to move forward with the proposed regulations is unclear given that it depends on the use of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) and the associated listing of Plastic Manufactured Items (PMIs) on the “List of Toxic Substances.” A recent Federal Court decision struck down the use of CEPA’s List of Toxic Substances for PMIs as both “unreasonable and unconstitutional”

JUST ONE WORD… PLASTICS: Last year, the federal government just concluded consultations on a plastics registry that would require producers to track and register all production of plastics and what happens to them. Do they end up in landfills? Is value recovered from those plastics? The goal is to enable the government to track progress as Canada moves towards its zero plastic waste target by 2030, while giving producers and recyclers some key data points.

  • WHICH BIN ARE YOU IN? The Government claims this will encourage producers to keep resource recovery in mind while producing plastic goods, while critics charge that it will create a significant administrative burden on producers while not actually reducing plastic waste. A final version of the requirements is expected by the end of 2024, with the program rolling out between 2025 and 2028.
  • BIG CHANGES, BIG OPPORTUNITIES: Scaling up the entire value chain from collection to sorting to recycling will be an enormous transition which requires the right regulatory regime to incentivize these necessary investments. However, the opportunity for companies who can align best practices and the latest technology is also enormous, with Canada’s plastics recovery alone expecting to be an $11 billion industry by 2030.


Our reliance on battery-powered devices has grown significantly in recent years and is showing no signs of stopping. But if we recycle them properly, there is a lot of value in end-of-life batteries.

StrategyCorp works closely with Call2Recycle Canada to promote their national battery collection program and increase awareness about the importance of battery recycling.

  • Did you know that a “dead”’ battery still holds a residual charge and can potentially pose a safety risk?
  • Or that end-of-life batteries can be processed and used to make other products?

Call2Recycle’s program recycles batteries safely while supporting Canada’s circular economy, and also helps other stakeholders understand the important role they play in stewardship programs across the country.

Call2Recycle just announced their best year yet – with almost 6 million kilograms of batteries recycled in 2023. We look forward to continuing to build on this momentum with the Call2Recycle team.

To learn more and to find a battery drop-off site near you, visit


Statistics Canada will release GDP data for the fourth quarter of 2023 today. After expanding in the first two quarters of 2023, real GDP contracted in Q3. Early estimates have real GDP growth by industry in positive territory for Q4, which could mean Canada avoided a technical recession last year.

Beyond GDP, the resilience of the economy is visible in labour market data. Employment grew every month in 2023 except for July. 2024 is off to a good start as employment continued to increase in January and the unemployment rate shrank for the first time since December 2022.

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