November 30, 2016

Today the provincial government proclaimed Bill 151, The Waste-Free Ontario Act (WFOA). This Act creates a new legislative framework for waste management in the Province and will transition the existing diversion programs under the Waste Diversion Act (WDA) including the Blue Box, Municipal Hazardous and Special Waste, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment and Tires to the new framework. The Act is focused on creating a circular economy strategy through supporting Provincial Policy Statements and the development of an organic strategy.  

We are transitioning from the municipally-run and co-funded Blue Box program toward an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regime that requires producers to cover all end-of-life costs for waste. The municipal role in this system will be evolving.  Eventually, producers will be fully responsible for meeting target recovery rates for designated products and packaging.  

Until we know significant post-transition issues such as level of diversion rates, geographic requirements and what materials will be designated, our municipal programs will continue to run so that our communities receive a convenient, reliable waste services that residents depend on.  Although it is too early for councils make informed decisions, municipal governments may be approached by producers to provide post-transition collection and/or processing services for designated materials.  

The WFOA is based on open competition and free markets instead of the previous industry monopolies. The government has voiced a commitment to ensuring competition at the producer level throughout the market. We fully support and need competition in the system.

One of the biggest municipal risks is that this transition period could be drawn out - or worse, become the new normal. Municipal governments remain responsible for the majority of the waste management system until the transition is complete. Therefore, AMO will continue to work with our members, the government, the new Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority, Producers, Waste Management Service Providers and other interested stakeholders to ensure that the transition period is as efficient as possible, and maintains the same level of quality that residents come to expect with the Blue Box program.

In addition to working with key stakeholders, AMO is planning a one-day session for municipal elected officials and staff to discuss the transition to the WFOA and the municipal challenges and opportunities. Mark your calendars for February 8, 2017 (Location TBD). Admission will be free with participation by teleconference and web also available.  More information about this session will be posted shortly on our website.