A petition has been introduced into the Ontario legislature calling upon the provincial government to pass deposit-refund legislation for beverage containers. (See Hansard transcript below.)
Pressure is building for Ontario to adopt a deposit-refund system for beverage containers, akin to that in place in most other Ontario jurisdictions. In addition to an increase in the volume of low-value plastic containers for such things as soft drinks, a key driver for this demand is new legislation in Michigan (a bottle bill state) requiring that imported garbage residue contain very low quantities of these materials. With financial support from U.S. EPA, recently-hired Michigan DEQ inspectors will soon inspect garbage shipments and likely turn back trucks with beverage containers.
This is of great concern to cities like Toronto that ships its waste there; the city’s official position is that the province should introduce deposit-refund legislation. Many IC&I waste haulers (whose shipments are double those of municipalities) will likely run afoul of the Michigan rules. Municipal recycling coordinators also complain of low-value glass collected in curbside programs, much of which is from wine and liquor bottles. Municipal officials have for years called for deposits for glass containers from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), citing the much more successful Beer Store system operated by the Brewers of Ontario that captures 98 per cent of its containers in a closed-loop system.
Solid Waste & Recycling magazine will update readers on the petition in its February/March edition.
Here are the transcripts from two members of the provincial parliament relating to the introduction of the petition.
Mr. Norm Miller (Parry Sound-Muskoka):
It saddens me to see hundreds of trucks ship garbage to Michigan every day, while our landfill sites are full of waste that should have been recycled.
I believe this government must introduce a long-term plan for waste management within our own borders. Most municipalities in my own riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka have developed responsible waste management programs; however, this is not true across the province. It’s shocking that we are the only province that does not require producers to take full responsibility for beverage container waste. Eight out of 10 provinces have laws that require a deposit-return system for most or all beverage containers.
The benefits are clear: With a deposit return system, litter can be reduced by as much as 47 per cent. The Beer Store is a great example of how deposit return can work. Through its voluntary program, the Brewers of Ontario have a return rate of almost 98 per cent.
This government must develop a province-wide plan for waste management that is creative, responsible and requires producers to take greater responsibility for the waste they generate. As a matter of fact, today I will be delivering a petition that calls for a province-wide deposit return system. I’ve also introduced a private member’s bill that would require the LCBO to implement a deposit-return system, and I intend to introduce a more comprehensive bill in the spring which I hope this government will support.
Mr. Tony Ruprecht (Davenport):
I have a petition addressed to the Legislature of Ontario and the Ministry of the Environment. "It reads as follows:
"Whereas we find lots of pop cans and beer bottles in our parks and children’s playgrounds;
"Whereas it is, therefore, unsafe for our children to play in these parks and playgrounds;
"Whereas many of these bottles and cans are broken and mangled, therefore causing harm and danger to our children;
"Whereas Ontarians are dumping about a billion aluminum cans worth $27 million into landfill every year instead of recycling them;
"Whereas the undersigned want to see legislation passed to have deposits paid on cans and bottles, which would be returnable and therefore not found littering our parks and streets;
"Whereas the province of Quebec already has legislation obligating the vendors to accept the refund on all pop drinks, whether bottles or cans;
"Therefore we, the undersigned, strongly urge and demand that the Ontario government institute a collection program that will include all pop drinks, bottles of beer, wine, Tetra Pak juice and can containers to be refundable in order to reduce littering and protect our environment."
I agree with this, and I sign this with a great deal of pride.
(End of transcript.)