The Minister of the Environment & Climate Change introduced new waste diversion legislation (Waste Free Ontario Act) and a draft waste diversion strategy on November 26th, 2015, which are the culmination of many years of consultation. There have also been two previous attempts to pass new legislation to replace the Waste Diversion Act (WDA), both of which failed. A copy of the legislation is attached and the strategy can be found at www.downloads.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/er/documents/2015/012-5834_DraftStrategy.pdf. The Waste Free Ontario Act will hopefully correct the waste sector marketplace distortions caused by the current Waste Diversion Act and provide members with significant opportunities for business investment and growth in waste diversion and recycling.
"This is an important step forward for the province today in embracing the move towards a circular economy which will improve resource efficiency, reduce our environmental footprint, increase productivity, create local jobs and foster economic growth," said Rob Cook, CEO of the Ontario Waste Management Association. " It is also very timely as Canada and other international leaders are set to meet in Paris for COP21 to discuss how to address climate change. The waste / resource management sector remains one of the best kept secrets to driving emission reductions and we are please the government is acknowledge this."
The proposed legislation reflects many of the positions the OWMA advocated for in its ReThink Waste Report and in many other submissions to government over the past few years which focus on promoting the elements of circular economy. It also mirrors many of the policies brought forward by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, the Ontario PC Party, the Ontario NDP and the Green Party of Ontario who have all strongly advocated for this legislation to be introduced. While Minister Murray should be commended today for finally introducing this new legislation and strategy, so too should his predecessor Jim Bradley, PC Environment critics Michael Harris and Lisa Thompson, NDP environment critics Jonah Schein and Peter Tabuns, and Michael Scheiner, the leader of the Green Party of Ontario who continually pushed the government to act.
As a brief synopsis:
The legislation includes the following elements:
• Provincial Interest and Policy Statements - similar structure to the Planning Act, which enables the government to provide clear direction and help guide decision making. Interest statements are high level but include important direction like promoting competition, increasing opportunities and end markets for recovered materials and holding producer individually responsible. The first policy statement is proposed to follow shortly after the legislation is passed.
• Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) - Outcomes based approach where producers will bear full responsibility. Producer would have flexibility in how outcomes are met but they would not be able to transfer their liability. Outcomes would be set by the provincial government and would include recovery targets, accessibility, and promotion and education. Clear delineation of roles and responsibilities:
o Province would designate materials, set outcomes (material by material) and oversee the Authority.
o Authority would monitor, measure (data clearinghouse) and potentially enforce outcomes set by the government.
o Producer would need to meet the government-set outcomes under the provisions of the Competition Act.
o Waste management sector (public & private) - would continue to provide services and negotiate a fair price for these services.
Unlike the previous legislation, there are no provisions to require ’reasonable compensation‘ for municipalities - instead this would be dictated by market forces. The strategy also recognizes that other approaches to increasing diversion of PPP (and other materials) in the IC&I sector may be preferable to a system based on extended producer responsibility - this will be the subject of further consultation.