Ontario’s Environment Minister Jim Bradley last week introduced a new Waste Reduction Act and Strategy, which would make numerous changes to the province’s solid waste and recycling management, including doing away with controversial eco fees on electronics purchases.

The long-awaited Waste Reduction Act would replace the 2002 Waste Diversion Act and make some significant changes to how Ontario’s solid waste and recycling programs would be run in the province.

The most visible public change to the program is to do away with Ontario’s controversial eco-fees, which saw the cost for managing the end-of-life recovery of some products — tires and electronics — printed on the receipt at the check-out stand for consumers. Under the new act, printed prices for items will have the cost of recovery and recycling included, and not separated out as a separate cost.

The old Waste Diversion Act was responsible for setting up the province’s e-scrap management program — the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Program was launched in 2009 — which is run by Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES). The Act would not change the status of OES if passed as is.

The act would also require individual producers of goods to be responsible for products sold in Ontario. This means that producers, currently required to take part in a cooperative industry funding organization (IFO), would be given the flexibility to manage their products as they see fit, while meeting the recycling requirements set by the government.

The Canadian wing of consumer battery stewardship program Call2Recycle welcomed the proposed legislation. “We believe Minister Bradley has taken a positive step in the right direction to further waste diversion in Ontario,” says Joe Zenobio, Executive Director, Call2Recycle Canada. “And we look forward to working with the Ministry on setting achievable and clear standards, and implementing strategies to divert even more batteries from the province.” According to the group’s press release about the Act, the proposed policy would create a more open market, allowing organizations like Call2Recycle to build on their successful track record as an established, nationally-recognized battery collection program.

Released along with the act, Ontario’s Waste Reduction Strategy, which details how the act would be implemented, is now available for 90 days of public and stakeholder feedback.