Waste diversion in Ontario has stalled around 25 percent over the last decade. While most of the success is coming from the residential sector, where 47 percent of household waste is diverted from landfill, the diversion rate for the rest of the economy is much lower.
Existing waste diversion programs established under the Waste Diversion Act, 2002 cover only 15 percent of Ontario’s waste stream and no new programs have been established under this Act since 2009. There is broad consensus among stakeholders that fundamental changes are needed to the legislative framework to move Ontario towards a circular economy, where end-of-life materials become feedstock for new products and packaging.
Failure to take action has economic and environmental consequences, including the loss of valuable resources, the lost opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the dwindling capacity of Ontario’s landfills and the increasing pressure on municipal taxpayers and industries to fund diversion efforts and rising costs.
To address these concerns, the government introduced on November 26, 2015 Bill 151, proposed omnibus legislation titled the Waste-Free Ontario Act that if passed by the Ontario Legislature, would 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 which would increase resource recovery and waste reduction in Ontario.
The proposed legislation includes:
A new Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act that would:
- Establish the provincial interest in resource recovery and waste reduction and enable the government to issue policy statements to provide further direction on the provincial interest. The policy statements would be developed in consultation with key stakeholders and the public.
- Establish a new outcomes-based producer responsibility regime that holds responsible persons accountable for recovering resources and reducing waste associated with their products and packaging. Responsible persons are brand holders, or others with commercial connections to products such as first importers and e-tailers. The Act would enable the government to set the outcomes that responsible persons must meet. Responsible persons would have the flexibility to determine how best to meet their obligations.
- Overhaul Waste Diversion Ontario, the existing oversight body under the Waste Diversion Act, 2002, as the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority with responsibility to oversee the new producer responsibility regime and existing waste diversion programs and their transition. Key functions of the Authority will be receiving and storing data from producers, collectives, municipalities and others who conduct resource recovery or waste reduction activities as well as compliance and enforcement under both the new and old producer responsibility regimes.
- Establish the Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy, which will outline a vision and goals for resource recovery and waste reduction and identify actions under the proposed Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act and other acts, e.g. the Environmental Protection Act. (See link under Additional Information for details on the Policy Proposal Notice of the draft Strategy, EBR # 012-5834).
A new Waste Diversion Transition Act that would:
- Replace the Waste Diversion Act, 2002 to enable the smooth transition of existing programs to the new producer responsibility regime.
- Allow for the wind-up of the existing waste diversion programs and the Industry Funding Organizations (IFO) that operate these programs. Once programs and IFOs under the proposed Waste Diversion Transition Act are wound up, the Act would be repealed.
Current waste diversion programs such as the blue box program would be continued under the proposed Waste Diversion Transition Act until they are smoothly transitioned to the new individual responsibility framework. The Government would lead the overall transition in consultation with stakeholders to ensure smooth transition.
In addition, the proposed Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act would provide the government various regulation making powers to:
- Prescribe materials that could be designated for collection and management under the new framework;
- Identify persons responsible for meeting obligations with respect to products and packaging sold to consumers in Ontario;
- Require responsible persons to meet clear outcomes and be accountable for recovering resources and reducing waste associated with the designated materials; and
- Set obligations such as registration, promotion and education, reporting and record-keeping for others performing activities that relate to resource recovery and waste reduction.
The purpose of the proposed legislation is to support a shift to a circular economy by:
- Reducing waste and increasing resource productivity,
- Enabling efficient and effective collection and recycling systems, and
- Increasing market value of recovered materials.
This approach would reduce greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change, save scarce resources, create jobs and capitalize on financial opportunities.
This proposal was posted for a 95 day public review and comment period starting November 26, 2015. Comments were to be received by February 29, 2016.
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 proposed legislation and draft Strategy are based on a number of past and current consultation opportunities.
In 2004, the Ministry posted Ontario’s 60% Waste Diversion Goal, A Discussion Paper for public comment. The document identified the need to improve Ontario’s waste diversion results, particularly with regard to organic wastes and wastes generated by the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors. The paper explored options to improve the diversion of waste in Ontario, including landfill bans, more centralized organics processing, and the role of new technologies.
In 2008, the Ministry posted Toward a Zero Waste Future: Review of the Waste Diversion Act, 2002 to initiate the five-year review of the Waste Diversion Act. The paper solicited public comment on a number of waste diversion issues to help assess the Act’s effectiveness and determine if changes were needed to enhance waste diversion in Ontario. Extensive consultations with key stakeholders, including producers, municipalities, retailers, the waste management sector, environmental groups, and the public focused largely on evaluating the effectiveness of the framework in achieving diversion.
In 2009, a Minister’s report, From Waste to Worth: The Role of Waste Diversion in the Green Economy, provided findings from the review. The report also included proposed broad changes to the waste diversion framework centered on extended producer responsibility for the management of designated wastes, and using other complementary measures to increase diversion. Consultation with stakeholders and Ontarians provided feedback on the proposals to improve the waste diversion framework.
On June 6, 2013, the government introduced Bill 91, the proposed Waste Reduction Act, 2013 and released the draft Waste Reduction Strategy that was posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry for public comment. The Ministry also met with stakeholders through a series of public consultation sessions to discuss Bill 91. The public consultation sessions also included discussions on the draft Waste Reduction Strategy that provides a blueprint for increasing diversion and the economic and environmental benefits of diverting material from landfill.
In 2014, a Bill 91 Working Group was established to work with producers and municipalities.
Senior Policy Coordinator
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Climate Change and Environmental Policy Division
Resource Recovery Policy Branch
40 St. Clair Avenue West
The following government offices have additional information regarding this
To arrange a viewing of these documents please call the Ministry Contact or the Office listed below.
Resource Recovery Policy Branch
40 St. Clair Avenue West
The documents linked below are provided for the purposes of enhancing public consultation.
All links will open in a new window