Two important Ontario municipal groups with an interest in waste diversion and recycling are challenging the current situation in the province in which industry stewards fund only half the net costs of curbside recycling, and the producers of materials not captured in the blue box (which is sent to landfill) are off the hook completely.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Association of Municipal Recycling Coordinators (AMRC) are looking for municipal feedback on a new discussion paper on who should pay the costs of waste management.
In “An Alternative Approach to Ontario’s Blue Box Funding Model” — released in February — AMO and AMRC call for industry to pay all the costs of blue box recycling and, at first, half the cost of managing materials that do not get recovered by recycling programs and half of all litter management costs. It also calls on all printed paper and packaging to be designated for all blue box programs.
“There is a growing need to revise the current blue box funding model as municipalities are becoming more vulnerable to rising waste management costs,” says AMO in a recent Alert news bulletin to municipalities.
“The combined effect of managing more post-consumer packaging and printed paper that is difficult to recycle, and the anticipated designation of other diversion programs, such as kitchen organics and leaf-and-yard wastes, leaves municipalities burdened with increasing waste management costs.”
The discussion paper examines various options associated with a change in the financial responsibility of the blue box program and outlines the impacts on municipalities with each option.
Funding level questioned
Municipalities “have not come close” to receiving the 50 per cent reimbursement called for by the Waste Diversion Act, the report notes, estimating the municipalities’ share is more than 60 per cent of the cost to recover blue box recyclables.
“Whether it is through the blue box, litter or landfill,” the paper says, “municipalities are the ones that deal with material once it reaches the waste cycle but have no control over the decisions of design of packaging and printed paper. The discussion paper acknowledges that finding stewards for organics programs could be a problem. “This could mean that municipalities would be fully responsible for implementing and funding the entire program,” notes the paper.
The discussion paper notes the “functional split” approach used for the recently-approved Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste program, but says it would not work for the blue box.
“Municipalities have determined that any changes in responsibility and revenue sharing could not be done in a way that would improve the blue box system, from its current state. Nothing short of industry assuming 100 per cent of the costswould address the fiscal imbalance…and be consistent with the other diversion programs awaiting approval and development.” As AMO notes in the February Alert, “Municipalities can no longer subsidize an industry generated problem.”
AMO asks its members to pass a resolution at council conveying their comments and support to the discussion paper by April 29, 2008. The AMRC is looking for operational perspectives by April 9.
The discussion paper and Alert can be found at the AMRC website www.amrc.ca/policy.html
This news item was adapted from the spring edition of the AMRC’s official newsletter “For R Information.”