Working towards a waste-free Ontario
By Dave Harrison
Nov. 27, 2015, Toronto — Ontario has introduced legislation that, if passed, would divert more waste from landfills, create jobs and help fight climate change.
Currently, Ontario is generating too much waste, and not recycling enough, say government officials.
As a result, the province has introduced the new Waste Free Ontario Act that would encourage producers to turn more of their waste into new products by requiring them to take full responsibility for their products and packaging.
The new legislation, which would be phased in over time, would also help fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gas pollution that results from the landfilling of products that could otherwise be recycled or composted.
The province also posted a draft Waste Free Ontario strategy for public and stakeholder feedback. The draft strategy provides a roadmap for Ontario to transition to a province that produces zero waste and zero greenhouse gas pollution from waste. Together, the proposed legislation and strategy would:
• Foster innovation in product and packaging design and encourage businesses to design long-lasting, reusable and easily recyclable products.
• Require full producer responsibility for the Blue Box program, removing the financial burden on municipal property taxpayers while ensuring all Ontarians continue to benefit from convenient Blue Box collection.
• Eliminate industry funded organizations that set fees that can be passed on to consumers.
• Encourage companies to look for ways to make their recycling processes more economical and stay competitive.
• Boost recycling in the business and institutional sectors, which will reduce waste and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
• Develop a plan to reduce the amount of organic materials going into landfills.
Harnessing the value of waste as an economic resource supports the government’s plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.
• The Blue Box program is available in 97 per cent of Ontario households and keeps approximately 66 per cent of residential printed paper and packaging from landfills.
• Over eight million tonnes of waste is sent to landfill each year.
• Ontario’s overall diversion rate has stalled at 25 per cent.
• Absolute greenhouse gas emissions from Ontario’s waste have increased by 25 per cent between 1990 and 2012 as the amount of waste disposed in landfills has increased.
• Every year in Canada, an estimated $1 billion in valuable resources is lost to landfill.
“Ontario has a bold new plan to transform how we manage waste that encourages the development of products that are never discarded,” said Glen Murray, minister of the environment and climate change.
“Instead, they are reintroduced into a system to be reused, refurbished, recycled or reintegrated into new products-this is called the circular economy. This also provides business with the incentive to design innovative ways of turning what is considered a waste into a resource.
“Managing our resources more effectively will benefit Ontarians, our environment and economy and support our efforts to fight climate change.”