12/09/2015


On November 26, 2015, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Glen Murray, introduced the highly anticipated new legislative framework for waste management – Bill 151 – the Waste-Free Ontario Act.

The draft legislation is high-level enabling legislation that will see much of the details on how services will be funded and delivered determined later via regulation after much consultation. The legislative framework and supporting documents are posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) Registry.  Staff are reviewing the legislation and will be providing comments to members in early February.  The deadline for providing comments to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change through the EBR process is February 24, 2016 (Environmental Registry).

The draft legislation is comprised of two proposed Acts:

  • Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act to set overarching provincial direction and establish a full producer responsibility regime for products and packaging.
  • Waste Diversion Transition Act to replace the Waste Diversion Act (2002) to help ensure a smooth transition of existing programs to the new full producer responsibility regime.
Additionally, the new legislative framework includes a "Strategy for a Waste Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy" to support Ontario in achieving its goals.

Our initial review of the legislation has identified a few issues for you to be aware of:
  • The legislation transfers full responsibility for the end of life management of designated products and packaging to producers.  Producers will be financially and physically responsible to recover their own material.  They can join a collective to meet these obligations, but they are not required to.  
  • Municipalities are considered a potential ‘service provider’ to producers to help them fulfil their obligations.  There is no proposed legislated ‘role’ for municipalities in the new legislative framework.
  • There are provisions in the Waste Diversion Transition Act for municipalities to be paid 50% of their costs to operate blue box systems and the Minister has the authority to increase the funding percentage municipalities would receive as programs transition from the current legislative framework, the Waste Diversion Act (2002) to the new Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act.
AMO and our members have long advocated for Extended Producer Responsibility for waste diversion programs,  however, now that this legislative and regulatory opportunity is before us we’ll need to work hard to make sure it lands well for our communities and our residents.  The transition from the current legislative framework to the new framework is estimated to take about 3-5 years. Much of the details on how the new system will work will be determined through regulations that will be developed after the draft legislation is passed.

Municipalities and their staff will likely be approached by producers or their representative to discuss contractual arrangements for service provision to collect and/or process designated materials under the new legislation.  It will be critical for municipalities to intimately understand their full respective costs for service provision for these negotiations.  Resources are available to assist your municipality in determining your costs through the Continuous Improvement Fund.  We would highly recommend that you do not make any commitments with producers or their representatives at this point until many details are finalized for diversion programs under the new legislative framework and through the transition process.
 
We are organizing an initial municipal session on January 20, 2016 for municipal waste management staff to review the proposed legislation and the implications the proposal could have on municipal governments and their waste diversion programs. Details on this municipal session will be sent to your staff shortly.

The Ministry will be holding consultation sessions in January on the following dates:

Toronto - January 12, 14 and 19
Guelph - January 21
Thunder Bay - January 26
Ottawa (tbd) - January 28

It is our understanding that this is the start of a long process, especially for the Blue Box programs. Although EBR comments on the proposed legislation need to be provided by February 24th, we have the full legislative process and then if approved, the transition of programs from the current Waste Diversion Act (2002) to the new framework is going to take time.  

We anticipate that the legislative cycle for this Bill will see second reading likely starting in February 2016 with the passing of the Bill occurring later that spring. Transition of programs will start with electronics, household hazardous waste and tires and is expected to take 2-4 years.  Transition of the blue box is expected to take 2-5 years.

We will provide further updates on this legislation as we complete our review of the legislation and have a better understanding of the proposed transition process.