On June 6, 2013, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment Jim Bradley, introduced Bill 91 to the Ontario Legislature.
Bill 91 – An Act to establish a new regime for the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste and to repeal the Waste Diversion Act, 2002 — is an attempt to address the stagnant waste diversion rate in Ontario.
Waste management is a complex issue that is affected by all levels of government in Canada. Since the enactment of the Waste Diversion Act in 2002, a number of limitations have been identified that prevents Ontario from being a leader in waste diversion.
Bill 91 will bring five fundamental changes differing from the existing Waste Diversion Act:
- It will establish a Waste Reduction Authority.
- Greater emphasis will be placed on increasing industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) diversion rates.
- There will be an opportunity to identify new and different materials for recycling.
- The cost of waste diversion will be placed on the producers of designated products and packaging, and not on the taxpayers.
- The existing 50% funding cap by producers on municipal Blue Box programs will be removed.
Waste Reduction Authority
The Waste Reduction Authority will be given powers to ensure producers, the IC&I sector and municipalities are complying with the Waste Reduction Act. The Authority will also set out a new compensation formula for waste diversion between producers and municipalities, with producers expected to pay 100% of “reasonable” costs. Currently, producers pay 50% of the costs to recycle Blue Box materials like paper, glass, plastic and aluminum packaging, with municipalities — you the taxpayer — covering the other 50% of costs. The Authority can identify new and different materials for recycling for example, carpet and mattresses.
To assist with the transition from the Waste Diversion Act to the Waste Reduction Act, a Waste Reduction Strategy (WRS) has been proposed. The WRS identifies timelines in how and when the transition would occur.
What does this mean to you?
Consumers will no longer see an “eco-fee” added to products like tires or electronics being purchased at a store. Instead, the cost of recycling that product will be placed on the producer, who would incorporate the cost of recycling the product into the final advertised sale price. This will spur competitiveness between producers to reduce their costs in recycling their products.
Consumers should have more opportunities to recycle more. Not only is Blue Box recycling being promoted in the IC&I sector, but new recycling programs for items like cars, mattresses, carpet, etc., could be mandated.
Have your say on how Ontario manages its waste. Both the Waste Reduction Act and Waste Reduction Strategy are available for public comments until September 4, 2013 on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry.
Bill 91 has had its first reading in Ontario’s Legislature. The public consultation process ends on September 4, 2013. Comments and feedback will be incorporated into an updated version of the Bill, which would have its second reading in fall 2013. A third reading is required before it gets Royal Assent and the Bill becomes passed into law. There is no definitive time in which a Bill will go through the various stages of reading or if it even receives Royal Assent. Once the Bill becomes an Act, there could be a delay before the Act comes to force and effect.
Currently, there is a minority government in Ontario. Should the government fall and an election be called, this process would cease. A new government could continue the process, or start fresh on their own legislation.