What can be done to fix an inherently defective Waste Diversion Act?
The first option is to eliminate the words “blue box waste” from the Act since this is already, by default, a “designated material.” The minister can particularize the material in regulation and make friendly amendments as new materials arise and packaging evolves. It should also be noted that using “blue box” is somewhat outdated if it is meant to describe curbside collection programs province-wide. (Today there are grey boxes, depots, bags, wet/dry systems, and other methods of collection.)
Second, the government could substitute “waste diversion program” with “waste management program” to ensure that non-recyclable material and recyclable material sent for disposal can be levied as well. Third, eliminate the 50 per cent funding clause and instead allow the IFO to suggest its inclusion as a percentage of net disposal costs in its stewardship plan.
These three simple amendments would provide the government with flexibility to evolve regulations around changes in behaviour, material, packaging and technology trends. Also, the option for IFOs to levy for waste management instead of recycling only, will provide financial incentives for producers to include environmental considerations when selecting the material and design for their products.
For industry stakeholders with material currently collected in the box, this is a good deal. Industry’s contribution will shift to those producers currently using “bad” packaging versus those using “good” packaging without loopholes.
Placing the financial obligation on those who make the wrong decisions around material usage and product and package design will ensure that the incentives to producers are maintained and that the primary objective of the Act, “to promote reduction, reuse and recycling of waste,” can be attained.