Newspapers need to be exempt from EPR Initiative

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stack of newspapers

The Honourable Danielle Smith
Premier of Alberta

Dear Premier Smith,

Subject: Supporting Strong News and Print Industries in Alberta / Saskatchewan / Manitoba

I write to you today on a matter relating to the media and news print industries. Unifor is Canada’s largest private sector union representing 315,000 members across Canada, working in 20 economic sectors. In the media, our union represents more than 12,000 workers, including more than 6,000 members in the news and print industries.

Newspapers and local news are designed to serve the public good and are an essential part of a healthy democracy. The rise of the internet has severely diminished the number of professional journalists that write for Canadian newspapers and Unifor is at the forefront of the fight to keep the industry healthy. We have lost thousands of journalism jobs over the past several decades and newspapers are struggling to stay open. News deserts, great swaths of Canadian territory without any local news source, are becoming the new normal, hurting our democracy.

The newsprint that our news is written on is one of the most common recycling materials. Recycling newsprint also saves trees. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) sounds like a great initiative. Make the producers of plastics and packaging responsible for the recycling of that packaging. Anyone who has helped a child open a new toy understands that there is too much plastic and cardboard, not to mention impossible twist ties. Shifting the burden of recycling costs will inevitably force producers to innovate and find ways to wrap their products in far less packaging.

The only catch is that newspapers aren’t packaging, they are the product - an important product that is already the most widely and most successful recycling material. The EPR program in most provinces of Canada has treated newspapers the same as waste packaging driving up the cost of newspaper production as newspapers are forced to cut pages and, therefore, value to readers.

That is why Ontario has exempted newspapers from their EPR program. The extra burden of this program on newspaper publishers will only create costs that should not be imposed on an industry already stretched and facing so many obstacles.

For this reason, and because we truly believe that supporting newspapers and local news is of great benefit to the province of Alberta, we urge your government to follow Ontario and many other jurisdictions in the United States and exempt newsprint from your EPR program.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me.

Yours truly,

National President


cc       Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director
Roxanne Dubois, Unifor Executive Assistant to the National President
Randy Kitt, Unifor Director of Media
Erika Barootes, Principal Secretary
Rob Anderson, Transition Team Chair
Marshall Smith, Chief of Staff