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Policy Proposal Notice:   EBR Registry Number:   010-4676
Review of Ontario’s Waste Diversion Act, 2002: Discussion Paper for Public Consultation
Ministry of the Environment
Date Proposal loaded to the Registry:
October 16, 2008

Update: The Environmental Registry posting for the WDA review discussion paper has been extended to April 1, 2009 to give the public and stakeholders sufficient time to provide detailed feedback on Ontario's zero waste future.

Keyword(s):   Waste
Related Act(s):   Waste Diversion Act, 2002
The comment period for this proposal is now over.
Description of Policy:

The Waste Diversion Act, 2002 (WDA) came into force on June 27, 2002. The WDA mandates that the Minister of the Environment cause a review of the Act to be undertaken following its fifth year (for further information on the WDA, see Other Information section below).

While Ontario has moved forward with extended producer responsibility-based waste diversion programs over the past few years, we have heard from stakeholders that there are challenges associated with the waste diversion framework, the programs initiated, and the WDA itself. Many feel that it is time to reflect on the approaches Ontario has taken, and will take, related to waste diversion.

Ontario is proposing to adopt a zero waste vision to help reduce waste, increase diversion, and build a greener economy and more sustainable society. A zero waste approach focuses on redesigning products and processes to reduce waste before it is made, as well as designing products for greater re-use.

Zero waste has been incorporated into the policies and strategies of governments, advocacy groups, and businesses around the world as a goal to work towards. Adopting a zero waste vision represents a strategic shift in how we think about the products we produce and consume.

This review of the Act provides an opportunity to present the vision of zero waste as a goal, and discuss how we can make concrete steps in that direction today to take advantage of the opportunities that the zero waste vision presents and improve our waste diversion framework. To facilitate public and stakeholder input on how to improve our waste diversion framework, the Ministry has prepared a discussion document entitled Review of Ontario’s Waste Diversion Act, 2002: Discussion Paper for Public Consultation. In the discussion paper, the Ministry proposes that the first steps in striving towards zero waste should be built upon four key building blocks:

  1. A clear framework built upon the foundation of Extended Producer Responsibility.
  2. A greater focus on the first and second of the 3Rs – waste reduction, and re-use.
  3. Increasing reduction and diversion of waste from the industrial, commercial & institutional sectors.
  4. Greater clarity around roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities, to ensure that all players are contributing to a common goal.

Feedback from this comment period will help determine policy direction for the Ministry relating to the review of the WDA, strategic waste management directions, and Ontario's zero waste vision. 

Purpose of Policy:

The purpose of the discussion document is to facilitate continued public and stakeholder consultations on the Ministry’s review of the WDA. The Ministry encourages all interested parties to reflect on their experiences and provide feedback as we move forward. Your input and feedback is critical to establishing a clear and effective framework. We invite you to be innovative and think broadly about the principles and priorities of our four building blocks. To help guide the consultation, the paper contains a number of discussion questions. These are not meant to limit the debate. Respondents should feel free to move beyond the questions in providing feedback.

You can submit your ideas, comments, and feedback electronically through the Environmental Registry.

You may send written comments to the individual listed under “Contact”.

Other Information:

The Waste Diversion Act, 2002 and Waste Diversion Programs

The purpose of the WDA is to promote the 3Rs, and to provide for the development, implementation and operation of waste diversion programs. The WDA allows for the implementation of extended producer responsibility (EPR), an environmental policy approach that holds that the producers of products and packaging bear physical and/or financial responsibility for ensuring those products and packages are properly managed as wastes at the end of their life cycle.

The WDA embodies the principle of EPR by authorizing the Minister of the Environment to request the establishment of industry-financed diversion programs for wastes designated by regulation. The Act created “Waste Diversion Ontario” (WDO) – a permanent non-government corporation without share capital – to help implement the Minister’s waste diversion priorities. WDO works with another corporation referred to as an “Industry Funding Organization” (IFO) to develop, implement and operate waste diversion programs. The IFO must identify industries with a commercial connection to the designated waste, who are then required to pay fees to finance the diversion program. This makes industry responsible for the end-of-life management of the waste resulting from their products or packaging.

Under the WDA, the Minister of the Environment has the authority to request the establishment of diversion programs, approve or reject programs developed by WDO and IFOs, and provide policy direction to the WDO. The WDA also authorizes the Ministry to assume other oversight functions, including undertaking enforcement activities.

To date three diversion programs have been established or had funding established through the WDA - the Blue Box program, whose funding and management has been entrenched in the Blue Box Program Plan; the Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste Program (MHSW), which builds on and enhances municipal efforts to divert and dispose of certain problem household wastes such as paints, solvents, batteries, antifreeze, and used oil filters; and the soon to be implemented Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Program (WEEE), which will help Ontarians manage their used electronics properly. The Minister of the Environment has also directed the development of the next phases of MHSW and WEEE, and has asked industry to develop a program for the management of used tires.

Public Consultation:

This proposal was posted for a 167 day public review and comment period starting October 16, 2008. Comments were to be received by April 01, 2009.

All comments received during the comment period are being considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry.

Please Note: All comments and submissions received have become part of the public record.

Other Public Consultation Opportunities:

The Ministry is committed to an open and thorough consultation process throughout the WDA review process.

In April 2007, the Ministry began consultations with key stakeholders, including WDO board members, industry associations, companies, municipalities and environmental groups. The feedback received during those meetings helped to inform the development of the discussion paper. This posting marks the beginning of broad consultations with the public and other interested stakeholders.

Should the government decide that amendments to the Act are necessary in light of feedback received; the Ministry will continue to engage stakeholders throughout the subsequent stages of the legislative review.


Alena Grunwald
Project Manager
Ministry of the Environment
Integrated Environmental Policy Division
Waste Management Policy Branch
40 St. Clair Avenue West
Floor 8
Toronto Ontario
M4V 1M2
Phone: (416) 327-6380
Fax: (416) 325-4437