TORONTO, ON, November 26, 2015: In a report released today, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has called on the provincial government to undergo major reforms as it re-evaluates core tenants of the Waste Diversion Act. Under the current system, the Blue Box program costs municipalities and producers $250 million annually, a cost they share equally although it is municipalities that are exclusively responsible for decision-making. The report, Sustainable Recycling for the Next Generation, calls on government to increase producer involvement, streamline program management, and release the burden of waste diversion from municipalities. These recommendations come at a time when the cost of the Blue Box program continues to rise despite the stagnation of residential recycling across the province.
“It’s time for Ontario to build a sustainable and cost-effective waste diversion program,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the OCC. “This is bigger than a simple debate over eco-fees. Giving producers responsibility and accountability, while allowing them room to control the cost of the program, will lead to a system that is environmentally friendly, cost effective and beneficial across business sectors and government. Altogether, this will have a meaningful impact on consumers and diversion rates.”
Some key recommendations of the report include:
Adopt a “made-in-Ontario” producer responsibility system, which grants decision-making for waste diversion to producers, allowing them the freedom to meet environmental targets in any manner they find to be most cost-effective, innovative, or sensible – without government instruction on means or process.
Limit legislation, allowing for decisions on targets and materials to be made in dynamic regulation and policy.
Dissolve Waste Diversion Ontario and replace with a more clearly-defined authority that acts as a registrar and data clearinghouse, not a policy-making body.
Set environmental objectives surrounding material recovered, residential recycling rates, and coverage of municipalities, but allow producers the freedom to reach those objectives without government regulating the means or process.
“Producers have expert knowledge of their own materials and markets, and can bring innovation and efficiency to a system that is not functioning as best it can,” said O’Dette. “If implemented correctly, a producer responsibility program could improve both environmental and financial outcomes for producers and municipalities.”
The OCC’s report is the culmination of months of consultation with industry leaders across sectors, to find solutions that could increase residential recycling rates, decrease inefficiencies, reduce costs, and bring about positive environmental outcomes.
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Senior Communications Advisor
Ontario Chamber of Commerce