Toronto, Ontario, July 27, 2010 – The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) applauds the Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller’s Special Report on Ontario’s Plan for Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste.
Released today, it provides straight talk on the urgent need to divert hazardous household waste from landfills, and the wisdom of holding industry stewards – not taxpayers – responsible for the disposal costs of what industry produces.

“Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner has delivered a clear message that this is the right policy for the right time,” said Peter Hume, AMO President. “It is just plain common sense that producers – not property taxpayers – pay for handling this material – whether it be in the blue box or hazardous household waste.”

Waste that poses risks to our environment and to human health must be disposed of safely and responsibly. Tossing it in a garbage bag may be convenient, but it’s not very smart. Waste diversion makes far more sense. However, waste diversion only works when consumers and producers accept greater responsibility for the waste they create.

People used to think that Ontario’s Blue Box program was a strange idea. Today it is a simple and effective program that diverts more than two million tonnes of recyclable material each year. It could divert even more if industry had clear incentives to use recyclable material and consumers could get clear information about which products are better for the environment.

“The Government of Ontario deserves full credit for having the courage to show leadership on waste diversion as it is about change,” Hume said. “Holding industries accountable for the waste management costs related to their products and packaging is the most practical and effective means of reducing the amount of waste we create as a society. It is greener, cheaper and safer than digging and dumping. Ontario needs to be progressive, not regressive, in its approach to the environment.”

AMO believes that the costs of managing hazardous household products should not be borne by municipal property taxpayers. The association has long advocated for a program that will encourage a better designed product at the front end of the process, and more easily recyclable products at the end of the lifecycle. We also believe that consumers should have the power to make better informed purchasing choices.

As Ontario’s Environment Commissioner has pointed out, Ontario’s current waste diversion strategy has followed a decade worth of consultation. 

“This issue is so critical that we are counting on all political parties to work together and support this strategy,” said Hume. “Given that it takes a full generation and a willing community to build a landfill site, there are serious consequences to abandoning Ontario’s waste diversion strategy.”

Ontario municipalities share the Environmental Commissioner’s opinion that the only practical way to reduce waste and recycle more is to hold people responsible for the waste they create.  You make a mess you clean it up. It’s that simple.

AMO is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario’s 444 municipal governments. AMO supports strong and effective municipal government in Ontario and promotes the value of municipal government as a vital and essential component of Ontario and Canada’s political system.

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