08/16/2014

Creating greener choices and less garbage.
Ontario’s waste diversion strategy should:

  • ensure producers and first importers accept more responsibility for the costs of managing waste associated with their products;
  • not leave property taxpayers holding the tab for these costs;
  • reduce environmental pollution; and,
  • divert waste from municipal landfills.
Even though residents are doing their share, Ontario is running out of licensed landfill capacity.  Since 1989, 649 of Ontario’s 730 landfills have closed.  Alternatives to landfill are becoming increasingly costly and the approval and assessment processes are very time consuming.

Ontario produces an estimated 12.0 million tonnes of solid waste per year, predominantly from the industrial, commercial, and institutional (IC&I) sector. According to Statistics Canada, this sector produces 56 per cent of the overall waste in Ontario, with a diversion rate of only 11 per cent.  By comparison, WDO reports that of the 4.8 million tonnes of residential waste produced in 2012, 47.7 per cent was diverted.

Currently, property taxes pay for over 50 per cent of the actual Blue Box Program costs, subsidize some Household Hazardous Waste programs and pay 100 per cent of the costs of litter control, garbage collection and disposal.

Proposed Waste Reduction Act

During the 2014 provincial election, the now-elected provincial government promised to reintroduce a bill that recognizes the municipal role in delivering quality recycling services to Ontarians and would make individual producers more responsible for the costs of recycling the waste created by their products and packaging.  The previously introduced Waste Reduction Act (Bill 91) offered some relief to property taxpayers by proposing to lift the 50 per cent cap on industry funding for the Blue Box Program, similar to some other provinces.

Bill 91 created additional incentives for businesses to reduce waste, improve products and packaging, and use resources more efficiently.  Such changes would improve consumer choices and require businesses to become more innovative and competitive in designing recyclable packaging.  The proposal also targeted greater diversion in the IC&I sector.

AMO supports efforts to hold industries that produce and manufacture products responsible for the cost of waste diversion and encourage them to make greener products and packaging.  Successful waste diversion is also consistent with the development of a stronger economic environment in Ontario.

Blue Box – Arbitration for 2014 Steward Funding

The industry stewards, who manufacture or sell products that end up in the Blue Box, have seldom met their obligation to provide 50 per cent funding.  The two parties are now in arbitration to determine the steward obligation to municipalities for 2014.  Hearings have largely concluded, with a decision expected in October 2014.  The municipal sector was represented by AMO and the City of Toronto, whereas the stewards were represented by their industry funded organization, Stewardship Ontario.
 
Funding Cut for Some Municipal Hazardous Waste
 
Municipalities were surprised to learn that the 2014 Provincial Budget, approved in July, cancelled funding for the Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste (MHSW) Phase 2 program, effective October 1, 2014.  This means that municipalities will no longer be reimbursed for managing the disposal of materials such as fire extinguishers, rechargeable batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, thermometers, pharmaceuticals, and syringes.  Announced in the 2012 Provincial Budget, MHSW Phase 2 was to be a three-year, $10.5 million program.
 
The municipal sector is concerned that there was no consultation or warning for mid-year changes to municipal operations and budgets.  There is further concern about potential resident confusion about where these toxic materials go and the need to safely divert them from our landfills and water sources.

The Ministry of Environment is currently working with producers, municipalities, and other stakeholders to determine further options for effectively managing these wastes.  However, no resolution on how the handling of these materials will be funded post –October 1 has been determined at this point.

Producer Responsibility Success

Blue Box:  Collects and recycles printed paper and packaging from Ontario households. Producers contribute up to 50 per cent of program net costs. Producers’ contributions in 2012 were about $98.5 million.

Household Hazardous Waste:  Supports diversion and treatment of toxic products categorized into three phases.  Producers contribute up to 100 per cent for Phase I & II materials, totaling $49.1 million last year.  In 2012, the program diverted about 25,000 tonnes of municipal hazardous or special waste.

Used Tires:  Collects and recycles tires generated from all sectors in Ontario.  Costs of this program are not funded by the residential tax base.  In 2012, about 145,550 tonnes of tires were diverted from landfill.

Electronics:  Collects and recycles waste electronics from Ontario households and businesses and program costs are not supported by the residential tax base.  About 75,700 tonnes of waste were diverted from landfill in 2012.