Politicians could scrap Waste Diversion Ontario

Politicians could scrap Waste Diversion Ontario

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Leaders of an opposition political party in Ontario are proposing a dramatic overhaul of how the province collects and recycles e-scrap and hazardous materials.

According to a report in The Canadian Press, an official with the Progressive Conservative Party is proposing to scrap Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO), along with other related measures meant to make stewardship programs more effective and consumer friendly. Created by the Progressive Conservative's when the party last held power, WDO is an independent corporation responsible for developing recycling programs in conjunction with industry-funded stewardship organizations.

Additionally, the party is suggesting that the province completely do away with eco fees, which are charges passed on to consumers for collecting and recycling hazardous waste and electronics. Two years ago, the provincial government scrapped most eco fees in response to consumer blowback over the seemingly arbitrary nature of the charges that suddenly began appearing on receipts for many household products, as well as the ineffective response from officials charged with overseeing the program.

Although they were expunged for many products, eco fees were kept in place for potentially-hazardous materials, such as single-use batteries, paint, oil containers, pressurized containers and fertilizers. WDO retained its role in managing the eco fees that were used for the collection and recycling of these products. The fees were also kept in place for electronics and are managed by Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES), an industry-run organization that was created to meet the stewardship obligations of electronics companies.

Last year, the Progressive Conservatives, hoping to find a winning election-year issue that would help them topple the governing Liberal Party, called on the remaining eco fees to be abolished after an article in The Toronto Star found that OES was sitting on a $20 million surplus while falling short in meeting recycling targets.

Now, the Progressive Conservatives are renewing their calls for a restructuring of how Ontario funds the collection and recycling of these materials, including a proposal to do away with not only WDO, but OES and most remaining eco fees, all of which they contend are financially inefficient and don't adequately protect consumers, according to The Canadian Press. If the party has its way, it will keep Ontario's residential curbside recycling collection and tire recycling programs, run by Stewardship Ontario, intact.

Under the plan put forth by the Progressive Conservatives, the free market would have a greater role in recycling, with producers and importers being left to figure out how to pay for the collection and recycling of their products. The government would only set enforceable targets for waste diversion and ensure that they were met.

"The Liberal government remains busy tinkering with eco fees and tweaking with failed recycling programs while we ship a third of our province's waste — or four million [metric tons] — to the U.S. every year," Progressive Conservative environment critic Michael Harris told the news agency.

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