Solid Waste & Recycling

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Paper & packaging pay blue box $148 million

Through their program to share responsibility with municipalities for funding the popular blue box recycling program, the printed paper and packaging industries in Ontario so far have sent municipalit...


Through their program to share responsibility with municipalities for funding the popular blue box recycling program, the printed paper and packaging industries in Ontario so far have sent municipalities a total of $148 million, reports Damian Bassett, CEO of Stewardship Ontario.

For the 2006 program year alone, municipalities received more than $55 million from industry — $48.6 million in cash payments, $5.4 million distributed as grants to improve residential recycling, plus $1.5 million in advertising space contributed by Ontario’s daily and community newspapers.

About 1,400 companies that use consumer packaging and printed paper which end in municipal waste — blue boxes or waste collection — are required under Ontario’s Waste Diversion Act to pay fees based on the amount and type of materials managed in Ontario’s blue box. The fees are submitted to Stewardship Ontario which in turn distributes them to municipalities. The Act requires the obligated companies to contribute a sum equal to 50 per cent of the net blue box system costs.

“But industry’s role doesn’t end there,” notes Bassett. “The obligated companies fulfill their stewardship responsibilities more broadly by working directly with municipalities to implement improvements to blue box program operations. It’s a win-win because it drives down the cost of recycling. Everyone benefits including municipalities, industry and through them, taxpayers and consumers.”

In 2005, Ontario residents recycled 861,000 tonnes of packaging and printed paper — an increase of 62 per cent over the 532,000 tonnes recycled in 1996. The population growth for the same period was 17 per cent. In the past 10 years, Ontarians have recycled the equivalent of 750,000 collection truck loads of recyclables or six million tonnes of materials through blue boxes and apartment recycling bins.

“We currently divert about 58 per cent of the recyclables that are in our residential waste stream from disposal through our blue boxes and apartment recycling bins,” said Glenda Gies, executive director of Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO). “That’s pretty good but we shouldn’t stop there. We should aggressively go after higher diversion. We are asking people who live in houses to recycle more but we are especially interested in helping people who live in apartment buildings improve their recycling routines. Apartment building recycling rates hover in the 14 per cent range and must get better.”

The types of packaging included in this program are glass and plastic bottles and jars, steel and aluminum cans, and paper corrugated and boxboard boxes. Paper products include newspapers, magazines, catalogues, flyers, direct mail, bank and investment statements, reports, household mail, envelopes, paper towel and tissue rolls.

The WDO is the non-crown agency set up by the Ontario Government to oversee programs to increase the diversion of packaging, paper products and other designated materials, such as municipal hazardous or special waste.

WDO undertakes the calculation of blue box funding allocated to each municipality, based on information municipalities provide through an annual survey. For 2006, the calculation is based on the:

* Quantity of each type of packaging and printed material recovered and sold to commodity markets by each municipality;

* Population density of each municipality; and

* Size of operation of each program.

Funding for 2006 is also based on the cost-effectiveness of each municipal program relative to similar blue box programs.

Stewardship Ontario sets aside 10 per cent of the stewards’ annual fees and makes that amount available as grants for municipal system improvements under a program called the Effectiveness and Efficiency (E&E) Fund. So far, 74 municipal projects valued at a total of $13.4 million are completed, underway or have been approved.

Barbara McConnell is president of McConnell Weaver Communication Management and the project manager/developer of the “Recycling Works” campaign for Stewardship Ontario. Contact Barbara at bmcconnell@stewardshipontario.ca and visit www.blueboxmore.ca to view the website. For background on Waste Diversion Ontario, visit www.wdo.ca and for Stewardship Ontario, visit www.stewardshipontario.ca


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