Tag Archives: Waste-Free Ontario

Ontario’s Bill 151: A long road travelled, an even longer way to go

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.

Waste-Free Ontario Bill – the Devil in the Details

Ontario has a bold new plan to transform how we manage waste that encourages the development of products that are never discarded. 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.”

Glen R. Murray
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

In November 2015, the province of Ontario introduced the new Waste-free Ontario Act, the purpose of this new legislation is to divert more waste from landfills, create jobs, and help fight climate change. The province of Ontario also posted a draft Waste Free Ontario strategy for public and stakeholder feedback. The draft strategy is meant to be a roadmap for Ontario to transition to a province that produces zero waste and zero greenhouse gas pollution from waste.

Currently, the bill (151) status is second reading debate and the comment period for the Waste –free Ontario strategy ends on February 29 2016.

If passed, Bill 151, the proposed Waste-Free Ontario Act will enact the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act and the Waste Diversion Transition Act. The proposed legislation is intended to enable a shift to a circular economy that would increase resource recovery and waste reduction in Ontario.

Ontario will be following other governments including Scotland and the European Commission creating new policies that incorporate circular economy mandates with waste reduction and generation.

While the Waste-free Ontario strategy speaks of an action plan towards a “zero-waste future” there is in fact no definition of Zero Waste, certainly to achieve internationally recognized standards for Zero Waste, Zero Waste Canada recommends that both the internationally recognized definition of Zero Waste and the Zero Waste Hierarchy are used as guidelines.

The strategy is a plan to achieve two stated goals: a zero waste Ontario and zero greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector. The three objectives that are outlined in the draft strategy are:

  1. Increase Resource Productivity and Reduce Waste: Resource productivity is the process of using resources as effectively as possible in order to reduce or avoid waste. As increasing resource productivity is a new way of thinking in dealing with waste in Ontario, there is the need for a clear provincial direction and an agenda to support this objective. Ontario would use a variety of tools and actions to encourage Ontario producers’ to show leadership and innovation in resource productivity to prevent waste.
  2. Enable an Efficient and Effective Recycling System: Empowering producers with full responsibility for their products and packaging could bring about improved ways to recover, manage, recycle and reintegrate materials into the economy in a manner that reduces costs. Enhanced generator and service provider requirements could help produce clean waste streams, help direct more wastes to recycling and help extract maximum value from these streams.
  3. Create Conditions to Support Sustainable End-Markets: To make recycling economically viable, the government will need to emphasize the development of markets for recovered materials. This would require co-ordinated actions using multiple tools to capitalize on the economic opportunities associated with collection, transportation, processing and re-integration of resources into Ontario’s economy.

This new legislation holds promise but it will not just words but actions that will fulfill this new directive. There is a need for clear timeframes and goals, continuous review, involving all stakeholders including small business, existing repair, reuse, recycling and waste sector businesses, and an action plan for both short-term and long-term goals.

While in the draft stages until the questions of who, what, how, how much and why are answered, it is difficult to predict the impact this legislation could have on the economy and the environment.

As the saying goes” the devil is in the details”.

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