Council Watch - March 2009

Take Action on Waste before April 1st, Toronto 'The Green': Mid-term Environmental Report Card 2008!

Take Action on Waste before April 1st

Your opinion on Waste Diversion in Ontario is needed by April 1st!

Below you will find background information on the issue, sample comments, as well as some of our recommendations on improving Ontario's Waste Diversion Act.

The Ministry of Environment is set to make some monumental changes to the way Ontario deals with its waste in their current review of the Waste Diversion Act (WDA) and they’re asking for your opinion.

The purpose of the WDA is to promote and provide special programs that reduce, reuse or recycle waste before sending it to a landfill, such as the Blue Box Program.

The Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) wants Ontario to focus on the 3R’s hierarchy (1. Reduce; 2. Reuse; then 3. Recycle), by starting at the source of problem - the need for producers to reduce excessive packaging, rather than focussing on how consumers dispose of it.  This is finally being heard!

The Minister has made zero waste and extended producer responsibility the focal point of the WDA review.

What can you do?

Comments are due by April 1st 2009, so take a few minutes to submit your response today!

Please share your submitted comments with TEA by emailing them to [email protected].

Suggested comments to show your support or opposition to the recommendations:

  • I support 100% industry funding for the Blue Box. Our municipalities have spent millions of dollars dealing with the poor packaging choices of industry!
  • I support 100% industry responsibility for all packaging and printed paper, whether it ends up in the Blue Box or in the landfill.
  • I think industries should incorporate all environmental costs into the cost of their product or packaging. If accepted as a production cost  prices will stay competitive, forcing producers to design for the environment and find innovative ways to reduce their packaging. This means that industry cannot slap on additional fees, blaming government and forcing consumers to dig deeper into their pocket books.
  • I do not support burning of waste in any form, for any purpose. I think the 3R’s hierarchy is fine the way it is and we should not create a 4R’s hierarchy that would include incineration as a form of ‘recovery’.


TEA’s take on the WDA recommendations

Some good recommendations that came out of the review:

100% industry funding for the Blue Box

  • Brand owners and companies should pay 100% of the recycling costs of their packaging, rather than the current 50%. The other 50% has been subsidized by municipalities for too long and they refuse to pay for the poor packaging choices of industry any longer.
  • If industry pays 100% of the costs of recycling their packaging, they might find ways to make it more recyclable and cost effective.

100% industry responsibility for all consumer packaging and printed paper

  • Whether it ends up in the Blue Box, the garbage can or as litter on the street, industry should be financially responsible for all the packaging they sell in Ontario. In the face of packaging restrictions, brand owners and companies will turn to innovative strategies to re-design their packaging to meet waste diversion targets.

Build a green economy in Ontario through increased waste diversion and innovative recycling programs

  • Make it a priority for recyclable material to be processed in Ontario to provide green jobs for Ontarians.
  • Encourage recycled content in products and packaging to make sure that recycled materials have a strong market

Producers should accept all environmental costs into the cost of their products

  • To be truly responsible for the environmental costs of a product, such as its reusability, recyclability and/or safe disposal, producers need to accept these costs into the cost of the product before it hits the shelves. Adding the environmental costs on top of the product price, like a fee or ‘tax’, does not encourage companies to be cost-competitive and puts all the cost onto consumers.

One of the WDA recommendations that is a cause for serious concern:

Including incineration in the 3R’s.

  • The 3R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle – are meant to guide waste diversion practices. Some industry representatives want to change the hierarchy to 4R’s reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover. “Recover” in this case means waste incineration, which is really disposal. Pretending that it is diversion is just green wash for industries using packaging that can’t be reduced, reused, or recycled. We think they should change their packaging, not the definition of diversion.

Toronto 'The Green': Mid-term Environmental Report Card 2008

In 2006, TEA predicted that Toronto would elect the greenest City Council since amalgamation. Council’s voting record over the last two years has proved us right.

Our Environmental Report confirms this. For the first time, we are awarding a majority of Councillors with “A” grades. On the smog and climate change front, Toronto earned a "B+".

But not all the news is good. There’s been no action on buying and building green power and on creating green jobs. That’s because the city bureaucracy is not designed to deliver the actions we need at the speed at which we need them.

Our recommendations set out what has to happen to turn Toronto into the true green leader.