The funding plan for Ontario’s blue box has encountered serious problems within its first year of operation. The plan requires certain Ontario businesses whose materials are collected in curbside recycling schemes to pay for half the net cost of municipal blue-box recycling programs. Yet costs have soared, targets have been missed and many companies are not participating as legally required.
The total cost for the blue-box program will climb to $118-million in 2005, about 40 per cent higher than this year’s $84-million cost and more than a third above the original forecast.
The information comes from a report by Stewardship Ontario, the industry funding organization that collects fees from companies and distributes them to municipalities.
The August 31 report states that the average levy paid by companies that generated packaging waste collected via residential blue boxes must rise nearly 27 per cent next year to cover corporate share ($59 million) of the program in 2005, and to offset part of a $1.6-million shortfall in business fees from the first 11 months of operations.
The report says: "The law requires industry to pay 50 per cent of the cost of the blue-box system. Until now, the industry share has been significantly less than 50 per cent," adding that retroactive payments for 2003 and 2004 in reality cover only 36 and 44 per cent respectively of municipal costs.
Thus far 1,600 firms have registered with Stewardship Ontario and committed to paying fees based on their own calculations of blue-box waste generated by their products. This is only half the roughly 3,000 companies anticipated.
Failure to comply with the Waste Diversion Act may result in fines of up to $20,000 per day for individuals and $100,000 per day for companies.
Critics charge that the blue-box program is not viable compared to an expanded deposit-return system for containers. The Canadian Federation for Independent Business (CFIB) says the program is cumbersome and costly to companies that must calculate how much blue-box waste they generate and to pay a levy for each tonne of recyclable glass, metal, paper, plastic and textiles.
Note: This news item was written in part with information gleaned from the National Post newspaper. For the full story, see April Lungren’s article in the November 11, 2004 edition at www.canada.com/national/nationalpost/index.html