07/27/2010

Burying waste is a centuries old waste management strategy that cannot possibly address the reality of modern life on a crowded planet.
There is no question that we have to put less waste in landfills and recycle more.  The only question is how?

Blindly tossing harmful materials in garbage bags may seem convenient, but it costs us dearly. It makes it harder to dispose of hazardous materials safely, increases waste management costs and poses risks to environmental and human health.  

All taxpayers, property or provincial, need to recognize that they are left holding the bill and costs will only get higher if producers are left out of the environmental equation. It takes about a generation and a willing community to build a landfill and not surprisingly, Ontario is running out of room for them.  

For years, the Ontario Government has been working with municipalities and industry to find solutions that divert more waste from landfill and produce less waste in the first place.

The goal of all waste diversion programs (electronics, tire and hazardous wastes) is to ensure that producers are held responsible for managing disposal of their products once they’ve reached the end of their natural life – known as extended producer responsibility. Although this is standard practice in some countries, the McGuinty government is showing strong leadership in North America by taking this approach. 

Here are some of the facts about Ontario’s waste collection and diversion programs:

  • Ontario has 81 landfills, down from 730 in operation in 1989. 
  • Only a handful of landfills have been approved in the last 10 to 15 years
  • Ontarians generate more than 12 million tonnes of waste annually. That’s the equivalent of 34,000 fully loaded Boeing 777 jets.
  • Almost 80 per cent of waste is disposed. Because the amount of waste requiring disposal outstrips available landfill capacity, we send about 4 million tonnes to landfills in the United States. Only 22 per cent of Ontario’s waste is being diverted from disposal.
  • Up until the Waste Diversion Act, property taxpayers footed the bill for disposal and diversion of waste, including the high costs of safely disposing of hazardous materials. Many municipalities will continue to provide the service to their residents, but those that produce the waste, the stewards, will provide the funds for disposal. 
  • The household hazardous waste diversion program currently diverts over 20,000 tonnes annually from Ontario landfills. That is expected to increase to over 54,000 tonnes with the new product categories that came into effect on July 1st.