The Province of Ontario has announced a long-awaited waste management policy, which is posted for comment on the Environmental Bill of Rights online registry.
According to the document, as Ontarios population and economy continue to grow, the province is facing a number of critical waste management challenges. In particular:
Existing public and private infrastructure is under pressure to handle the increasing volume of waste that is accompanying population growth.
Sustainable approaches are needed to ensure that Ontario can manage its waste as close to the source of generation as possible.
Greater progress on waste diversion is needed.
The proposed Policy Statement on Waste Management Planning articulates a forward-thinking and cooperative approach to waste management intended to address these issues.
The Policy Statement is based on long-term, integrated planning for the provision of waste management services and systems. It establishes the provinces expectations for waste management, outlines a framework for decision-making by all waste managers, and provides specific direction on the development of long-term municipal waste management plans. This includes direction for large municipalities (with populations of 100,000 or greater) to develop municipal waste plans within two years of this statement being finalized. Small municipalities (with populations under 100,000) should develop municipal waste plans within two and a half years.
Where a municipality has already developed, or is in the process of developing a waste management plan, the Ministry encourages that adjustments be made, where necessary, to ensure the plan (or planning process) reflects the principles and expectations established through the Policy Statement.
The Policy Statement encourages:
Integrated waste management systems;
Maximum diversion of materials from final disposal;
Cooperation, where possible, between public and private sectors, and between neighbouring municipalities, to realize cost savings and maximize efficiencies;
The management of waste as close to the source of generation as possible;
Investment in infrastructure that helps accommodate growth;
Recognition of waste as a resource;
The incorporation of producer responsibility into waste reduction and management;
Open and transparent decision-making; and
An informed citizenry who support waste management choices and participate in waste prevention and diversion programs.
While the Policy Statement provides detailed guidance to municipalities, the overall approach and focus is to provide direction to all waste managers. The industrial, commercial and Institutional sectors (IC&I) continue to also generate significant quantities of waste that requires appropriate management. The province challenges these sectors to consider the principles established here in minimizing the amount of waste produced, and therefore minimizing waste management requirements for both the business sectors and municipalities.
The provinces waste management framework is comprised of numerous regulatory and non-regulatory initiatives that provide direction to, and seek cooperative approaches with, the many players who share responsibility for the management of Ontarios environment: producers, industry, commercial bodies, institutions, municipalities, environmental groups and the public.
A critical foundation of Ontarios waste management approach are the 3Rs Regulations — Ontario Regulations 101/94, 102/94, 103/94 and 104/94 — which were made in 1994 under the Environmental Protection Act. These regulations aim to ensure that municipalities and businesses reduce non-hazardous waste from disposal through reduction, reuse and recycling programs. For a number of years following the introduction of the 3Rs regulations, few new policy or program initiatives were introduced at the provincial level.
In 2002, the province passed the Waste Diversion Act (WDA) to promote the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste, and to provide for the development and implementation of waste diversion programs. The WDA created Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO), a permanent non-government corporation, with a multi-stakeholder Board of Directors. The WDA is based on the principle of extended producer responsibility. It requires the WDO to work with an industry funding organization (IFO) for each waste diversion program requested by the minister. Together WDO and the IFO develop diversion programs based on a funding model where fees are paid by industry stewards.
Ontarios municipal blue box program was the first program funded under the WDA in 2003. The ministry has requested that WDO develop a program for municipal hazardous or special wastes, and signaled its intention to move forward with a program for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment.
In recent years Ontario has taken a number of important steps to strengthen and broaden the provinces waste management approach and drive diversion, including:
Changing the requirements for collecting, storing and transferring certain materials that can be recycled to encourage industries that produce waste materials to do more recycling;
Making it easier for municipalities to set up recycling and composting facilities by exempting these facilities from the environmental assessment process (saving municipalities two to three years and tens of thousands of dollars);
Encouraging greater use of organic wastes by permitting the production of ethanol and biodiesel as alternative fuels without having to get the ministrys approval;
Making it easier to use wood waste to produce energy, thus reducing the amount of wood waste that ends up in landfills;
introducing a deposit-refund system for wine and spirit containers;
Launching an extensive compliance effort to ensure that the IC&I sectors are meeting their obligations under Ontario Regulations 101-104;
Requesting the development of a program plan for municipal hazardous or special wastes from Waste Diversion Ontario (completed June 2007), and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (winter 2008);
Pursuing a national strategy to reduce the environmental impacts of packaging throughout its lifecycle through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment;
Forming a partnership with Ontario industry and environmental organizations that will ensure 50 per cent reduction in the use of plastic bags by 2012 through expansion of reusable bag programs and consumer education;
Committing to work with industry at the provincial and federal level to reduce the net environmental impacts of packaging; and,
Supporting innovation and research to increase diversion, including projects on plastic bags, zero waste, litterless lunches, apartment recycling and mercury recover from florescent bulbs and tubes for recycling.
As part of its commitment to give waste managers the tools they need to develop sustainable waste management solutions, Ontario is also introducing this Policy Statement on Waste Management Planning. It aims to achieve more consistent and timely waste management planning across the province and to increase transparency in decision-making. It provides Ontarios waste managers with specific direction to plan for their waste management needs within the context of long-term infrastructure planning. It also provides direction to municipalities for the development of 20 to 25-year waste management plans.
The province expects the principles articulated in the Policy Statement will guide the waste management decisions of both municipalities and the private sector.
In support of this Policy Statement, the Ministry of Environment may also develop a technical guidance document to assist municipalities in the development of effective waste management plan
s. Comments received on the Policy Statement will inform the shaping of this document.
Note: This proposal has been posted for a 45 day public review
and comment period starting June 12, 2007. If you have any questions, or would like to submit your comments, please do so by July 27, 2007 to the individual listed under “Contact”. Additionally, you may submit your comments online.
All comments received prior to July 27, 2007 will be considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry of the Environment if they are submitted in writing or electronically using the form provided in this notice and reference EBR Registry number 010-0420.
Please Note: All comments and submissions received will become part of the public record. You will not receive a formal response to your comment, however, relevant comments received as part of the public participation process for this proposal will be considered by the decision under for this proposal.
Please visit www.ebr.gov.on.ca