Ontario needs to scrap its Waste Diversion Act
At a joint media conference at the Ontario Legislature, Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) and Ontario Waste Management Association (OWMA) called for new legislation that drives and achieves greater waste diversion.
Prior to a new round of eco fees that are scheduled for May 1, 2013, the two organizations declared the current framework for producer responsibility in Ontario is fundamentally flawed and no longer workable. The current Waste Diversion Act (WDA) lacks accountability, transparency, oversight and effective enforcement mechanisms.
“The WDA was introduced in 2002 and a decade later, we continue to expend major resources to do little more than tinker with programs under flawed framework. Since that time, we have seen little improvement in waste diversion and, still over 75 percent of Ontario’s materials are lost to disposal,” stated Jo-Anne St. Godard, executive director, Recycling Council of Ontario.
“The WDA has failed consumers, the economy and our environment,” said Peter Hargreave, director of policy, Ontario Waste Management Association. He also observed, “Numerous controversies over eco fees, repeatedly missed diversion targets, and major marketplace disruptions illustrate that the current legislation is unworkable.”
OWMA and RCO call for a simplified and streamlined approach to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) that requires individual producers of products and packaging to be fully responsible for ensuring their materials are properly managed at end-of-life, with improved oversight that focuses on results. This approach provides producers the freedom and flexibility, to drive recycling result at least cost to consumers.
The proposed reforms are predicated on the RCO and OWMA position that extended producer responsibility is a pivotal waste diversion policy element in most environmentally progressive and effective jurisdictions around the world.
The two organizations contend that embedding the following principles into new EPR legislation would ensure Ontario becomes an environmental and economic leader in waste-related resource management:
- Focus responsibility on individual companies – get rid of agencies that allow producers to ‘outsource’ their costs and responsibility and allow them to do what they do best: innovate and compete.
- Restrict point-of-sale fees. Recycling costs are a new cost of doing business in Ontario and should be considered in the price of the product, not added at the checkout.
- Government should set the rules (standards, targets) and enforce them with penalties.
“There is an immediate and pressing need to get to the root of the problem so we can focus on the bigger picture,” said Hargreave.
St. Godard continued, “The time to act is now. The government, Ontario PC Party, Ontario NDP, Green Party of Ontario, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario and other stakeholders agree change is necessary and overdue.