Ontario's EPR plan hangs in the balance

Ontario's EPR plan hangs in the balance

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Dec. 18, 2013

The fate of a waste reduction bill in Ontario is up in the air, with municipalities rallying around the measure and conservative members of the provincial legislature opposing it as a "job killer."

Under the proposed bill, which would repeal and replace 2002's Waste Diversion Act, manufacturers would be required to cover the cost of recycling their products. If they choose to do so by raising the prices of their products, they will be asked to include a clear recycling fee in "advertised and shelf prices," according to Lindsay Davidson, spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment. In other words, "No more recycling fee surprises at the checkout counter," Davidson said. Currently, tires and electronics are subject to the controversial eco-fees.

Manufacturers and members of the Progressive Conservative party, on the other hand, hold that the law will unfairly penalize an industry already struggling to stay afloat in Ontario. "We see this as a job killer," Jim McDonnel, a member of Ontario's provincial parliament, told Canada's CBC News.

If the law were to pass, a provincial office would be created to see that manufacturers properly recycle their products as well as consider more environmentally sustainable approaches to product design. But with legislators now on holiday break, the bill, which has received equally vociferous support and opposition, hangs in the balance.

Supporters of the Waste Diversion Act 2013 say the bill will alleviate the weight of recycling from municipalities by lifting the current 50-percent industry funding cap of the province's "Blue Box" curbside recycling collection program. Municipalities took several ads out in area newspapers last weekend to voice their support for the measure, and Davidson reiterated the Ministry of the Environment's support for the bill.

"The proposed Waste Reduction Act is about making individual producers responsible for recycling the products they sell. We want to shift our energies from merely managing wastes to recycling the value of waste back into the economy, and creating more recycling jobs," Davidson told Resource Recycling.

A report on Ontario's recycling efforts published in October indicated the province's recycling program saw overall tonnage down by 1.3 percent year-over-year in 2012 and down close to 5 percent since 2006.

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Ontario EPR a job generator

Rather than killing jobs as the Conservative minority in Ontario suggests, this bill will create jobs by relieving municipal taxpayers of the cost of recycling.

Thereby putting more money into the pockets of residents to spend as they wish.

And putting more money into reuse and recycling jobs. 

This bill will tie the cost of reuse and recycling to consumers...so they can make a choice about whether to buy or not buy a product. Rather than dumping the costs of consumption of goods onto the backs of residents-municipal taxpayers. Some of whom are overconsuming, and others on very limited incomes who aren't. 

Why should a senior on a fixed income be over taxed for the cost of reuse and recycling, as opposed to charging a wealthy person who purchases stuff indiscriminately for the actual costs of dealing with their consumption. Thus creating a better 'feedback loop' between consumption and the costs of handling surplus materials, than otherwise.

Conservative economists would tell us a good feedback loop tying costs to benefits is the best 'free market' way to deal with this. 

In any case, the Conservative minority is just that, and I expect this bill will be supported by the 3rd party in the Legislature (the NDP) and the bill will pass.