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What is Extended Producer Responsibility?

EPR, Product Stewardship, Industry Stewards and Closed Loops

As you explore the Stewardship Ontario website, you’ll hear us talk about Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), Product Stewardship, Industry Stewards and Closed Loops. What do these terms mean?

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) describes the comprehensive responsibility that Ontario producers, importers and brand owners have to reduce the environmental impact of their products and packaging. Under the EPR model, this responsibility, or Product Stewardship, extends across the entire product management lifecycle, encompassing waste reduction, recovery, recycling and reuse. You’ll also hear it called cradle-to-grave product management.

Closed Loop Materials Management

EPR involves a Closed Loop approach to materials management, whereby product waste is recovered when the consumer discards it and is reused as a raw material to produce a new product or packaging material, consuming considerably less energy than it takes to manufacture from scratch. This approach replaces traditional linear thinking and is based on the concept that manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and the consumer all share in end-of-life product management. For examples of  closed loop materials management, please refer to the following Stewardship Ontario Case Studies:

Ontario Family Business Closes the Loop on Sustainability

How Canada’s Top 5 Food Retailers added More Plastic to the Blue Box

Industry Stewards

Because nobody is better placed to reduce toxicity and waste than producers themselves, the province has made Ontario businesses responsible for the program costs associated with the collection, transportation and recycling or safe disposal of the waste their products generate. Known as Product Stewards or Industry Stewards, these businesses also have the power to reduce their share of the recycling recovery costs and contribute to sustainable communities by turning the supply chain into a continuous loop, and becoming more innovative about product and packaging design.

Linear Waste Management


Closed Resource Recovery Loop



A Fair Share of Producer Responsibility

The fairness of our Blue Box  rests on the willingness of all industry stewards obligated under legislation to recognize their responsibility, report accurately, meet reporting deadlines, pay invoices on time and play by the rules. Accurate and timely reporting is essential for Stewardship Ontario to allocate program costs equitably and set fees that are fair. Full participation and timely payment are also important to avoid “free riding,” ensure that all obligated companies are included in the program and avoid the possibility that stewards who accept responsibility don’t have to pay for those who do not.



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