Guest blogger :
By Isabelle Faucher, Managing Director, Carton Council of Canada
Guest blogger :
By Isabelle Faucher, Managing Director, Carton Council of Canada
From the launch of the Waste Diversion Act’s review in the fall of 2008, to the introduction of the failed Bill 91 in 2013, to the recent passing of Bill 151, the Waste-Free Ontario Act, legislative reform on waste diversion in Ontario has been a long time coming.
While Bill 151 was passed last June, little is known about how the actual on-the-grounds transition to compliance will take place. This is especially true for the Blue Box program, which will undergo a major shift. From a compensation regime in which producers currently offset a portion of municipalities’ blue box program delivery costs, to a system in which financial and operational responsibility will rest with producers. Given our mission to grow carton recycling in Canada, the Carton Council has a vested interest for this transition to be smooth and seamless.
The Blue Box, which has been around for over 30 years, is recognized internationally and is widely embraced by Ontario residents. Given that the government’s Draft Strategy promised producers flexibility to meet their regulatory obligations, preserving the Blue Box collection system as we know it today may be difficult to entrench in regulation. Moving forward, producers will need to work together to ensure the integrity of the system. This does not necessarily require them to work under a single collective. But under a scenario where multiple compliance organizations will co-exist, these organizations would be required to work together to preserve and share the Blue Box collection system. In that case, the operation of these compliance organizations would need to be overseen by a neutral third-party, acting as a ‘services clearinghouse’.
Carton Council’s support for the continuation of the existing Blue Box collection infrastructure should in no way be interpreted as opposition to the development of multiple consortiums. Rather, we believe that these types of solutions can enhance the Blue Box system and even complement it. That’s what we saw in Manitoba with the establishment of a dedicated program by producers to recover beverage containers consumed away from home.
To secure a smooth transition of the Blue Box system, it is critical that current service levels – i.e. collection frequency, the suite of materials accepted for collection, and geographic coverage – are maintained. And the ability of the government to set accessibility, collection and management standards provides some important safe-guards in this direction.
At this point, it is still unclear what role the municipalities, which have been providing collection services since the Blue Box’s inception, will have in the new system. For example, the Act requires producers and their service providers to implement a promotion and education (P&E) program. However, it is municipalities who have been historically consumers’ source of information on recycling services. Consumers, if not informed, may continue to go to municipalities in search of recycling information. In Quebec, under the new regime passed in 2010, industry assumed the full cost of the residential recycling system while municipalities remained in control of service delivery. P&E costs became non-eligible for industry compensation. System contamination increased significantly following this change: from 5.2% in 2006/07 to 12.8% in 2012/13. The little amount of municipal-led education efforts seems to have contributed to this. Now that it is clear that, with the passage of Bill 151, full producer responsibility for Blue Box waste is coming to Ontario, it will be important for producers and municipalities to begin the inevitable discussions to define their new relationship in order to avoid what happened in Quebec.
What is described above are just some of the considerations that policy-makers, producers, current system operators, and other affected stakeholders will have to ponder during transition of the packaging and printed paper program. The definition of targets and the methodology used to measure progress will surely be another source of much discussion during this time.
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change must be commended for the quality of the consultation process that it has led to date, setting a consultative and open tone for the long road that lays ahead. The Carton Council is committed to working closely with all stakeholders to ensure a successful transition towards a waste-free Ontario framework that overcomes current barriers and harnesses the environmental and economic value of recovered materials, including those that constitute food and beverage cartons.
Carton Council of Canada (CCC) is an association that provides a platform for carton manufacturers in Canada to grow carton recycling by promoting collaboration among key stakeholders, ensuring adequate legislation and driving education consumer education of carton recycling throughout the value chain.
As an active member of the RECYC-QUÉBEC committee on recyclable materials, the CCC is helping to implement a pilot project to assess the added value and costs related to separating cartons collected at two Quebec sorting centres. Also in Quebec, the CCC is participating in the Tri-logique program, developed by Réseau Environnement, to help municipalities reach their environmental goals by raising citizen awareness about sound waste management. A summer promotional campaign will take place from May 2 to August 5, 2016.
The CCC in action in British Columbia In 2016, the CCC will formalize a partnership with Multi-Material BC (MMBC), the non-profit organization funding the selective collection system for packaging and printed paper on behalf of member companies in the province. The aim of the partnership is to promote the collection of cartons to increase the quantities that are recycled and to sensitize citizens to the various categories of containers accepted for recycling in British Columbia.
Recycle Everywhere in Manitoba This year, the CCC joined the Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association in Manitoba and its program Recycle Everywhere 101 in order to increase the collection of beverage containers, including cartons, in all schools in the province.
Recently, The Toronto Star newspaper published an article about the Ontario Recycling program, Ontario tire recycling fees fund boozy board dinners.
The investigative piece by Moira Welsh zeroed in on the expense accounts(using credit card statements) of Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS) board members, as well as political donations the non-profit stewardship organization made to provincial Liberal party.
The Ontario Tire Stewardship organization (OTS) released a response to the article on their website RETHINK TIRES, replying that board “is comprised of highly skilled volunteers who receive no remuneration. OTS’ total expenditures related to the Board (including one meeting a year in an upscale venue and training and tools directly related to their roles as Directors) is .1 per cent of our overall administration costs.”
Reading both article and OTS’ response highlighted how little both government and citizens know about the inner workings of Canada’s stewardship organizations, and how in the case of recycling fees how the money is actually used and distributed.
The Ontario Recycling Stewardship program collected stewardship fees from first importers and scrap tire in the province. The stewardship fees are used for providing incentives for collection, transport, processing of scrap tires as well as manufacturing of recycled goods.
Registered collectors, transporters, and processors have responsibilities that are stipulated by OTS, and these registered participants (collectors, haulers, processors0 are responsible for costs associated with these OTS stipulations including liability insurance, storage, employee wage and training, and reporting.
In Ontario, when the consumer pays an eco-fee of $4.75 for a passenger tire when purchasing a new tire, the eco-fee is collected by OTS which runs the tire recycling program. As well as administration costs for OTS, the fees are used to pay collectors, haulers, processors and manufacturers incentives( stipulated payments) for their role in the tire recycling program. Collectors are paid an average of 88 cents per passenger tires or the equivalent, haulers are paid an average of $1.25 per passenger tire or equivalent, and processors get an average of $1.07 per passenger tire or equivalent.
While board meetings are important, OTS needs to realize that a $16,104 board meeting at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier or a $2,023 bill for wine seems very expensive to someone getting 88 cents for handling tires, storing and collecting tires. Perhaps this Toronto Star article and the OTS response also highlight the disconnect some stewards have to the financial well-being of the handlers (the businesses that are recycling the products).