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Good news on Battery Recycling in Ontario

Starting in January 2014, TEA led a coalition of environmental and health organizations to oppose a new battery recycling stewardship program for Ontario because it uses a lower definition of recycling. 

The good news is that the new Minister of the Environment & Climate Change heard TEA's objections and intervened. In July 2014, Minister Murray directed the decision-making body (Waste Diversion Ontario) to halt all decisions until further consultation is completed. 

This intervention is a good sign - it is especially important as the Provincial government is creating a new framework for waste policy in Ontario that will shift responsibility for waste management to the producers and manufacturers in Ontario. Stewardship programs approved under the current policy framework should be considered carefully.

(The new framework will likely be similar to the 2013 proposed Waste Reduction Act and Strategy -expired when the Provincial election was called. Read more about the Waste Reduction Act here.)

The issue:

The Ontario Waste Diversion Act sets out rules for how waste is handled and recycled in Ontario. This includes regulations that require companies and producers to take responsibility for the waste created by the products they sell through Product Stewardship Programs. Waste Diversion Ontario is the agency set up by the Province to oversee and approve Product Stewarship programs.

Ontario's battery stewardship program organizes battery producers and recyclers to collect and recycle single-use batteries at a recycler in Southern Ontario.

A new battery stewardship program was proposed by a competing recycling coalition called Call2Recycle that claims it would recycle more batteries. Unfortunately, the Call2Recycle battery recycling program uses a different, lower, definition of recycling that would count the incinerator ash as part of the 'recycling' target, even though the current recycler has a higher standard of recycling that doesn't rely on incineration.

Timeline of events:

January 2014: TEA and a coalition of environmental NGOs from Ontario signed a joint letter expressing concern about a proposal to change Ontario's battery recycling program. A letter was sent to Waste Diversion Ontario urging them to reject the proposal. A letter was also sent to Minister of the Environment, Jim Bradley, asking him to intervene in the process.

March 2014: The good news is that our objections were heard by the Waste Diversion Ontario board - on March 18th, the WDO board did not approve the program and have instead committed to undertaking a review of the definition of 'recycling' and battery recycling technology. 

April 2014: TEA and a coalition of NGOs submitted a follow up letter to the Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) Board. This letter expressed concerns with the WDO plan to approve a new battery recycling program before they've completed their review of the definition of recycling and battery recycling technology.

July 2014: TEA forwarded our concerns to the new Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, as we were concerned that Waste Diversion Ontario was planning to meet to decide on the proposed battery recycling program. Again, this decision woud be made before the review of the definition of recycling was completed.

Minister Murray heard our objections, along with objections raised by a number of other parties, and directed WDO to stop all decisions on stewardship programs until further consultation is completed. The Minister directed WDO to consult on the environmental and health impacts, the impact on Ontario's recycling industry and other things. Read more here. 


ENGO Letter to WDO - Call2Recycle ISP.pdf81.66 KB
ENGO Letter to MOE - Call2Recycle ISP.pdf51.19 KB
ENGO Letter to WDO Follow Up - Call2Recycle ISP - April 17 2014.pdf41.67 KB