After Eco-Fee Debacle, Toronto Ratepayers Remain “On the Hook” for Industry’s Wasteful Habits


Thursday, July 22, 2010

After Eco-Fee Debacle, Toronto Ratepayers Remain “On the Hook” for Industry’s Wasteful Habits

Toronto: While the latest round of eco-fees have been scrapped, Toronto ratepayers are still on the hook for at least $17 million every year because of producers refusing to take responsibility for the wasteful products and packaging they produce. This cost is on top of the huge environmental costs associated with landfilling toxic and non-toxic waste.

“It’s time the makers of these products took full responsibility for the waste they’ve created,” said Franz Hartmann, Executive Director of Toronto Environmental Alliance. “This is called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and the Provincial Government needs to make this the law in Ontario.”

Currently, city ratepayers have to contribute over $15.6 million a year to the Blue Box collection system and $800,000 to collect household hazardous wastes. On top of this, ratepayers have to pay for all the products and packaging that end up in the garbage and shipped off to landfill. “Because companies can offload their waste and environmental costs to the city ratepayer, they have no incentive to find cost effective and environmentally responsible ways to design their products and packaging,” said Hartmann. “If we had true EPR, companies would quickly redesign their products and packaging to bring down the waste costs they would have to pay.”

But EPR has to be done properly, cautioned Hartmann. Otherwise, it can create new sets of problems. “For example, the producers of toxic household waste were mandated by the Government to set up and finance a system to collect toxics. The so-called “eco-fee” approach was the producers’ first attempt at doing this. They got it completely wrong. Thankfully, the Ontario Government stepped in and cancelled this faulty approach to EPR. Unfortunately, while a new solution is developed, Toronto ratepayers will continue subsidizing these producers through the City’s household hazardous waste depot system.”

“The City of Toronto is facing a huge budget deficit,” said Hartmann. “If producers actually took responsibility for their waste, there would be $17 million more to invest in greening the city. For example, the money could be used to get green bins into apartment buildings.”

TEA called on the Province to immediately introduce legislation that makes producers responsible for all their waste. “The Minister of Environment has already signalled that he is interested in promoting EPR through amending the Waste Diversion Act,” said Hartmann. “We urge him to make these changes as soon as possible so that EPR is the law in Ontario. Without these changes, Toronto ratepayers will continue subsidizing wasteful corporations.”


For more information, contact:
Dr. Franz Hartmann, Executive Director  
cell: 416-606-8881