Currently, waste diversion under the Waste Diversion Act is stalled. We generate about 12 million tonnes of waste a year but divert only 25 per cent from landfill. Much of our success is thanks to the actions of residents who are currently diverting approximately 46% of household waste; while the diversion rate for the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors is much lower.
This represents a lost opportunity to create new jobs, foster innovation and conserve resources. Recycling uses less energy, produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and has less environmental impacts than extracting raw materials.
Recycled materials have tremendous value and potential to create investment opportunities and new jobs but we are sending those opportunities to landfill. Recycling creates 10 times more jobs than disposal and 7 jobs are created for every 1,000 tonnes of waste recycled.
Failure to divert more of our waste from landfill has consequences for the dwindling capacity of Ontario’s municipal landfills. It also places increasing pressure on municipal taxpayers to fund diversion efforts and deal with rising costs.
The draft Waste Reduction Strategy, along with the proposed Waste Reduction Act, sets out the province’s proposed road map for removing the current barriers to increasing diversion, and harnessing the environmental and economic value of waste. The strategy describes Ontario’s vision, sets desired outcomes, and provides a blueprint for how we can get there through concrete actions, including the implementation of the proposed Waste Reduction Act, should it be passed.
Under the province’s proposed approach, there would be an opportunity to create a new legacy that will help lead to a cleaner environment while fostering innovation, creating jobs and strengthening our economy.
The vision of the draft Waste Reduction Strategy is a province which moves towards zero waste, recognizing the inherent value of all materials, while fostering economic and environmental innovation to increase access to convenient waste diversion approaches.
The draft Strategy outlines tools and actions to drive results. The elements of the strategy include:
- Drive economic and environmental innovation by holding individual producers responsible for the end of life management of their products, including meeting government-set waste reduction outcomes.
- Use all-in pricing to ensure consumer protection and incent improved product design.
- Transform Waste Diversion Ontario into the new Waste Reduction Authority to oversee the individual producer responsibility regime with strong and effective compliance tools.
- Increase support for municipal waste diversion and recognize the role municipalities play in diversion.
- Transition existing programs under the Waste Diversion Act to the proposed Waste Reduction Act in a timely and smooth manner, ensuring services are maintained. This would include consultation on gradual increases to producer funding for the Blue Box.
- Increase the diversion of a wider range of wastes, including as a first step the designation of paper and packaging from the IC&I sector. This would include consultation on the use of disposal bans to support diversion; a strategy to increase diversion of organics; and developing and implementing new standards for end-of-life vehicles.
An important aspect of the proposed approach is to protect customers by ensuring that recycling costs are included in the cost of the product as part of the cost of doing business.
The draft Strategy sets out potential implementation timelines, consultation considerations and provides key questions for discussion to inform Ontario’s path toward a future of zero waste.