June 2019
Ontario Government Looking to Change Recycling Program

2019-06-07 12:12:42 PM


In an effort to tackle issues relating to recycling and plastic waste, the Ontario government has appointed David Lindsay as a Special Advisor on Recycling and Plastic Waste. Mr. Lindsay will provide Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) Rod Phillips a report this summer on how to "reduce plastic waste and litter, improve recycling, increase products that can go into the blue box, and ensure producers are responsible for managing plastic and other packaging at end-of-life.” 

Mr. Lindsay is currently the President and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities. 

MECP Minister Phillips has requested that Mr. Lindsay's work be guided by the following policy framework that could affect municipalities:

  • Standardize what can be recycled in offices, parks, public spaces and homes in Ontario;

  • Improve diversion rates and increase what materials can be recycled;

  • Reduce litter and waste in communities and parks;

  • Improve Ontario’s Blue Box Program by implementing a system known as extended producer responsibility (EPR). It requires that large food retailers and product manufacturers pay for the recycled products they produce instead of the province’s local governments;

  • Maintain or improve the frequency of Blue Box collection; and

  • Consider how the policies can enable diversion in the institutional, commercial, and industrial sector. 

As it stands now, recycling in Ontario is funded by local governments and Stewardship Ontario, a non-profit comprised of Canadian Tire Corp., Unilever Canada Ltd., and other large companies. Switching to an EPR system would see Stewardship Ontario pay for all recycling costs. If implemented, Ontario would join British Columbia as the only other province in the country that implements an EPR system.  

Experts have said that municipal waste programs are currently overwhelmed by the amount of single-use plastics and other hard-to-recycle packaging they have to process resulting in pileups of plastics across the country. This is echoed by the Ontario government that says that recycling rates have been stalled for 15 years.

If implemented, the province estimates that based on 2017 costs, municipal governments would save between $125-175 million annually.

While environmental groups welcome the EPR proposal, they also argue that policies that reduce the amount of plastic initially generated must also be emphasized. 

For more information, please see below: 

Ontario Newsroom: Ontario to Tackle Plastic Litter and Waste & Revamp Recycling


 


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