The Liberal government in Ontario has approved a plan that directs industry to pay 50 per cent of the net cost of municipal blue box programs. About $3 million per month will flow from industry to municipalities beginning in early 2004. This figure indicates that the net cost of blue box recycling across Ontario is approximately $72 million.
The scheme is part of an overall waste diversion plan that will include a landfill ban on organic waste and steps to increase the recovery of blue box materials. The government has asked Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) to submit by March 2004 a plan to expand the recovery of material suitable for blue boxes from the current 45 per cent to 60 per cent by 2008.
Said Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky, "The previous government promised municipalities funding to support blue box programs but never delivered. We are taking positive action to help municipalities divert more waste from landfill to clean up our environment and improve the quality of life for Ontarians.
"This is a first step in our plan to drastically reduce landfill use. We plan on phasing in a ban on organic waste in our landfills because we believe that organic waste is a resource, not garbage.
"Diverting more waste from landfill means a cleaner environment for all Ontarians."
Blue Box Program Plan
The Blue Box Program Plan supports the government’s priority commitment to increase support to diversion programs to help municipalities achieve a 60 per cent waste diversion rate from landfills within five years.
Municipalities will continue to operate the blue box recycling system but for the first time industry will pay 50 per cent of net municipal blue box costs. Beginning in early 2004, Stewardship Ontario will collect fees from brand owners and importers. It’s expected that approximately $3 million per month will flow from industry to municipalities during 2004, beginning early in the year. Afterwards, fees will be set annually. In the meantime, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) — as part of an annual five-year commitment — will provide $5 million to the WDO for payment to municipalities and for its administrative costs.
The plan projects that 50 per cent of blue box wastes will be diverted by the end of 2006. Environment Minister Dombrowsky has formally requested Waste Diversion Ontario to undertake more work to expand the recovery of blue box materials to 60 per cent by 2008.
Glass, metal, paper, plastic, textiles or any combination of them are prescribed as blue box waste by Minister’s Regulation O. Reg. 273/02.
The plan, developed by WDO and Stewardship Ontario, is designed to ensure the ongoing development and operation of Ontario’s blue box recycling system. It outlines specifics about diverting blue box wastes and how industry will pay for half the net costs of municipal blue box programs. It details how funding will be collected from industry and distributed to municipalities, and used to pay program costs and for making the overall recycling system more efficient and effective, and for market development, promotion and education.
Stewardship Ontario has been designated as the Industry Funding Organization (IFO) for the blue box program. WDO and Stewardship Ontario are responsible for implementing the program. Stewardship Ontario is made up of "industry stewards’" — brand owners or first importers of products that are the source of blue box wastes.
Waste Diversion Ontario, created by the Waste Diversion Act in June 2002, is a permanent, non-Crown corporation made up of industry, municipal, non-government and government representatives.
To obtain a copy of the Blue Box Program Plan, go to the ministry website www.ene.gov.gov.ca, Waste Diversion Ontario’s website www.wdo.ca or Stewardship Ontario’s website www.stewarshipontario.ca
A copy of the plan can also be obtained from Waste Diversion Ontario at 416-226-5113 or Stewardship Ontario at 416-594-3456 or 1-888-277-2762.
Commentary on the plan from Michele Raymond
The plan, which was submitted in February 2003, was delayed because of complaints from industry over the cost and complexity of the plan, and because of elections for a new government in October. Approval of the plan, required under Bill 90 approved in 2002, is a victory for local governments, which stand to take in $3 million per month (CDN) from industry payments.
Quebec has legislation in place and is set to copy Ontario as soon as the regulation is settled.
Approval of this plan does set a new precedent in the area of "producer responsibility" legislation worldwide. There is some concern from industry that the idea will spread to other governments. This is the first time in North America that manufacturers will have to weigh their packaging and calculate fees.
While the plan has been supported by certain beverage companies and a few retailers, the Packaging Association of Canada has formed a new coalition to fight the law. The coalition charges that there is no cap on what local governments will consider their "costs," which have doubled two times so far, and that the way the law has been interpreted, some packaging suppliers will have their profits wiped out.
Once the WDO board approves new fees, manufacturers selling more than $2 million Canadian in Ontario will have 90 days to submit reports on 19 materials and pay their fees.
Michele Raymond is publisher of State Recycling Laws Update/Recycling Laws International in College Park MD. Phone 301-345-4237 or visit www.raymond.com