Part of a series examining waste management programs across Canada.
Hurry Up And Wait
2013 was an interesting year for waste management in Ontario. There were big announcements, plenty of discussion, lots of planning, but ultimately, it became a year of “hurry up and wait.”
This was followed by three months of consultation and the bill returned to the Legislature for second reading discussion in late September. It has been there ever since.
As we start a new year we can look forward to more work on the Bill 91 file. If it does get to the committee stage, the work has only just begun, with possible amendments to be discussed and negotiated.
If an election is called in the spring, as expected, and the bill dies on the order paper, the work to improve our current system carries on.
Perhaps sensing that changes are potentially afoot, four industry stewardship plans were proposed to Waste Diversion Ontario. These plans could potentially change the way designated wastes like beverage containers (generated outside the home), paints, batteries, and fertilizers are managed in Ontario.
As to be expected, there was a lot of interest in these plans, and ultimately the deadline for these plans to be approved/disapproved had to be extended into 2014.
In Ontario, municipalities fund 50% or more of household Blue Box costs, with the manufacturers of papers and packaging funding the rest. Each year, municipalities and manufacturers (called stewards) meet to negotiate the relevant costs. In 2013, negotiations broke down, and now the process is going to arbitration. So, the funding support for Ontario’s Blue Box program in 2014 is unknown at this time.
And still, under all these legislative and planning pressures, Ontario municipalities continue to make great strides by recycling, composting and diverting waste from landfill. Many municipalities are working on enhancing waste diversion in multi-residential buildings, and composting programs continue to grow across the province.
This coming year will undoubtedly be equally interesting, as we’ll see what happens to Bill 91, the proposed industry stewardship plans, and the results of Blue Box funding arbitration, and how these could impact waste management in Ontario.
About this guest blogger:
Ben Bennett is the Executive Director of the Municipal Waste Association, a network of Ontario municipal waste management professionals, based in Guelph. He has been involved in municipal waste management for 25 years.