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Ontario and B.C. Governments Show Commitment to Expansion of Renewable Natural Gas Generation

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Ontario

The Ontario government recently announced new rules related to biogas that are designed to create new ways for farmers to expand the emerging biogas and renewable natural gas (RNG) market in the province, creating economic opportunities while maintaining the province’s strict environmental protections.

There are approximately 40 agri-food anaerobic digesters in the province; located mostly on farms.  The regulation changes will enable new on-farm biogas systems and expansion of existing systems to be approved more easily and at a lower cost to help ensure that Ontario continues to be a biogas sector leader in Canada. The changes will also help reduce GHG emissions by diverting waste from landfills and by encouraging production of RNG. The regulation changes will enable Ontario’s $35 million-a-year biogas sector to grow by up to 50 percent over the next five years.

“By reducing regulatory burden for on-farm anaerobic digesters, we can provide economic solutions to divert more valuable food and organic waste from landfills, while maintaining environmental protections by encouraging the recycling of nutrients and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “We’re saving farm businesses time and money to allow them to grow untapped economic opportunities and take advantage of the emerging renewable natural gas market.”

Using farm waste to generate renewable natural gas is win-win for farmers and the environment: not only does it give farmers the opportunity to use materials that would otherwise go to waste, they are also able to reduce their carbon footprint,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “Importantly, these changes include new requirements to better safeguard the environment and human health – helping to ensure that economic growth doesn’t come at the expense of environmental health.”

“StormFisher and the Ontario Government share a vision of an Ontario with less waste going to landfills, more clean energy being created here at home, and more jobs and investment in rural Ontario. The changes announced today regarding on-farm anaerobic digestion will help with all of these goals,” said Brandon Moffatt, Vice President of Development, StormFisher. “The agricultural industry plays a vital role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The conversion of manure and other agricultural materials to renewable natural gas is a great step forward that will lead to significant economic development in rural Ontario and will support our farmers in diversifying their revenues.”

Changes to regulations under the Nutrient Management Act will create more opportunities for farmers to treat on-farm materials as well as other types of off-farm food and organic waste materials in on-farm regulated mixed anaerobic digestion facilities. This will enable an increase in on-farm production of biogas to generate renewable natural gas and will provide Ontario farmers with a new source of on-farm income.

British Columbia

British Columbia recently amended the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation (GGRR) to increase the production and use of renewable gas, as well as green and waste hydrogen in the province. BC is the first province in Canada to make these changes allowing for the increased production of renewable gas. The GGRR allows utilities like FortisBC and Pacific Northern Gas to make time-limited investments, within spending and volumetric caps, to stimulate the domestic market for renewable gases and reduce GHG emissions.

“A key part of our CleanBC strategy is increasing the use of hydrogen and other renewable gases in place of fossil fuels in vehicles, buildings and industry,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “The changes we’ve made to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation will provide natural gas utilities with more flexibility, stimulate investments in renewable energy and accelerate growth of hydrogen and renewable gas supply in their systems, while keeping rates affordable for their customers.”

“Changes to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation are important to accelerate the growth of B.C.’s renewable gas supply,” said Roger Dall’Antonia, president and CEO, FortisBC. “By increasing the renewable gas cap and expanding the regulation to include other renewable gases, such as hydrogen, we’re entering an exciting new phase of renewable energy development that will accelerate the transformation of our natural gas infrastructure into a delivery system for carbon-neutral energy.”

The amendment to the GGRR will enable utilities to increase the amount of RNG, green and waste hydrogen, and other renewable energy they can acquire and make available to customers, and help the province to achieve its CleanBC objectives, which commit to a 15% renewable gas content in the natural gas system by 2030.

COVID-19 Lockdown Measures in Ontario and the Impact on Waste Management

The Ontario government is moving Peel Region and Toronto into Lockdown effective Monday, November 23, 2020 at 12:01am. Durham Region and Region of Waterloo will move to “Red-Control” level (restrictions across multiple sectors).

Lockdown measures and restrictions will largely affect retail establishments, restaurants, bars, sports and entertainment facilities, post-secondary schools, and meeting and event spaces, among others.

Waste Management Services Exempt from Lockdown

Under Section 34(ii) of Ontario Regulation 82/20, services and businesses that include “Collecting, transporting, storing, processing, disposing or recycling of any type of waste” are considered essential and exempt from lockdown measures. Also exempt are other businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services within Ontario.

Regions will stay in their restriction level for 28 days (to Dec 21st), or two COVID-19 incubation periods, at which time, the government will assess the impact of public health measures to determine if the public health unit should stay where they are or be moved to a different level.

The following regions will be in the following restriction levels effective Monday, November 23, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.:
Lockdown (maximum measures) – GREY
• Peel Region*
• City of Toronto*

Control (stringent measures) – RED
• Durham Region*
• Region of Waterloo*
• City of Hamilton
• Halton Region
• York Region

Restrict (intermediate measures) – ORANGE
• Huron-Perth*
• Simcoe Muskoka District*
• Southwestern Public Health (Oxford, Elgin, St. Thomas)*
• Windsor-Essex County*
• Niagara Region
• Ottawa
• Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph

*NEW
Please read the Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework for details on which regions and which services and businesses are at different restriction levels. If you have questions about temporary measures, including closures and essential workplaces during the coronavirus outbreak, call Ontario’s Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

Ontario’s Proposed Blue Box Transition Legislation: Progress, or doubling down on a broken system?

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Written by Calvin Lakhan, Ph.D, Co-Investigator: “The Waste Wiki” – Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University

For much of this past week, I have been asked by a range of stakeholders and media outlets to provide my thoughts on Ontario’s proposed Blue Box transition plan. Generally speaking, the headlines surrounding the province’s announcement have been positive: “Ontario is developing a stronger, more effective Blue Box Program”, and that the proposed changes will be “Good for the environment, good for the economy, encourage investment, job creation and spur innovation in the recycling and resource recovery sector”.

Before I offer my opinion, let us first touch on what changes are being made to the Blue Box program, and what the perceived benefits are supposed to be:

What is being proposed:

  • Standardize and increase the list of materials accepted in the Blue Box, including paper and plastic cups, wraps, foils, trays, bags, and other single use items such as stir sticks, straws, cutlery and plates.
  • Transition the costs of the program away from municipal taxpayers by making the producers of products and packaging fully responsible for costs, resulting in an estimated savings of $135 million annually for municipalities.
  • Expand blue box services to more communities, such as smaller, rural and remote communities, including those under 5,000 people.
  • Set the highest diversion targets in North America for the various categories of waste producers are expected to recycle such as paper, glass, beverage containers and rigid and flexible plastic, encouraging innovation such as better product design and the use of new technologies for better environmental outcomes.
  • Expand the steward obligation to include three additional IC&I sectors (long term care/retirement homes, elementary/secondary schools, and private multi-residential buildings)
  • Provide bin “twinning” in all public spaces (increasing density of both garbage and recycling collection points in public spaces and other high foot traffic areas)

What are the (purported) benefits:

  • The transition to 100% producer responsibility will reduce municipal costs by approximately $135 million dollars annually
  • Municipalities will pass this savings on to households, in the form of reduced property taxes or levy-rates.
  • Standardizing the list of materials accepted in the Blue Box makes it easier for Ontarians to understand “what goes in the bin”
  • Expanding the list of materials accepted in the Blue Box makes it easier for Ontarians to participate “Put it in the bin, and we will figure it out”
  • Increasing service coverage to ensure that smaller communities, particularly in the provinces rural and northern areas, are able to receive Blue Box collection
  • A producer lead system is believed to have better control at containing costs, realizing operational efficiencies, and designing more sustainable packaging
  • A producer lead system will be able to invest in sorting/processing infrastructure and develop robust end markets for difficult to recycle light weight and composite materials
  • Investments in recycling infrastructure will lead to job creation and spur the development of new secondary industries.

For all intents and purposes, the province has doubled down on their approach to try and recycle “everything” and “everywhere” – after all, more recycling can’t be a bad thing, can it? This is the question that I find myself grappling with as I consider the scope and potential impact of these changes – telling people that recycling can actually be a bad thing has made me a relatively unpopular figure in Canada’s waste world.

While I have written on this subject extensively in the past, I think the easiest way to start this conversation is: “How much are willing to spend to recycle something?”. Now, the answer to this will depend on the material in question, perceived risks to the environment, available infrastructure and the attitudes/opinions/awareness of the person answering the question, but the purpose behind the question is to gauge at what point is it no longer beneficial (economically or environmentally) to recycle a product? In an ideal world, we would want to recycle everything, but our reality (particularly in Ontario), is that we operate in a resource constrained system. There is an opportunity cost to every decision that we make – a dollar spent on one activity, is one less dollar spent on something else. Which is what makes the government’s announcement so perplexing…. The costs of operating our existing Blue Box program have grown exponentially in the past decade, as waste management infrastructure has become increasingly incompatible with the types of packages that are being used today. This is actually one of the primary concerns expressed by municipalities in Ontario – our households want to recycle and put everything in the Blue Bin, but much of these materials are either not recyclable, or are virtually worthless as a commodity.

I have personally been part of conversations advising municipalities about what does and does not belong in the Blue Bin – overwhelmingly, the sentiment was that many composite and light-weight materials shouldn’t be collected, and the challenge was educating households (and city councils) that some things are better off not being recycled -a daunting task given Canadians love affair with recycling)

Catalyst for change

So, what has changed? Why do we suddenly want to expand the list of materials accepted in the program, including materials we know cannot be readily recycled in our current system? The answer as it turns out, is who pays the bill. In the transition to full producer responsibility, packaging producers (often referred to as stewards in Canada), will be financially and physically responsible for end of life packaging waste. The transition to 100% EPR has been a long time coming, but the decision to expand the list of approved materials and include three additional IC&I (Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional) sectors came as a surprise to many. The province has repeatedly said that the costs associated with these changes are relatively minor ($15 million dollars in their original estimates) – however, when faced with push back on these estimates and questions were raised regarding the methodology used to calculate them, the province acquiesced and revised their estimates to $115 million dollars (please see attached regarding the university’s cost model critique that served as the basis for the revised numbers). This is in addition to the $135 million that producers will now have to pay because of the transition to 100% EPR.

Regardless of these cost increases, the sentiment shared by many advocates of the transition plan is that if a producer makes it, they should pay for it. Even if it cannot be recycled now, then producers will have to find ways to develop the necessary infrastructure and end markets to make their packaging recyclable in the future. It is these investments in the recycling system that will not only lead to increased diversion but spur economic growth in the sector. This is a very easy message to get behind and sell to the public – multi-billion dollar CPG companies have shirked their responsibilities for too long, and they must pick up the tab for keeping packaging waste out of landfill. But let us dig a little deeper into the implications behind transitioning the costs to producers, as well as what it means to expand the scope and scale of the Blue Box program.

Right off the bat, we know that the minimum bill that producers will face is $250 million dollars annually, as estimated by the MOECP. But this paints an incomplete picture of the broader situation – We must consider the costs of developing the collection and sorting infrastructure to effectively capture new materials (something that has yet to be modeled). If Ontarians are now able include plastic cutlery, foil trays, wrap and bags etc. in their Blue Box, our waste management system will require a massive overhaul.

As of today, most of the items listed above are treated as contamination, screened out at material recycling facilities, and ultimately landfilled. Municipalities don’t want to collect these materials due to the difficulty (and cost) associated with recycling. End markets do not want them either as they have little to no value, and limited end use applications. If anything, the presence of these materials in the recycling system increases the costs of managing all other materials – something that the university has attempted to explain using the endogeneity hypothesis: “the “endogeneity hypothesis” refers to a situation where the cost of one material is dependent on the presence of other materials being managed in the system.  As a crude example, a hypothetical material mix of just newsprint and cardboard may take minutes to sort one tonne, but a mix of newsprint, cardboard and film would take substantially longer to process the same amount. There is a collinearity in the impact on costs that materials have on one another that are virtually impossible to predict.

While there have been no formal attempts to model the marginal costs associated with infrastructural investment, it is a fair assumption to say that it will not be $0 – the $250 million dollar estimate made by the MOECP fails to capture the financial impact of developing, operating and maintaining new infrastructure. These are costs that will not be absorbed by industry, as (in my opinion) costs will be transferred to consumers and ultimately manifest in the form of higher prices for packaged goods. While many have vehemently disagreed with this assertion, arguing that EPR will save households money as a result of a decrease in municipal taxes, the math says otherwise.

Impact to industry and households

In a previous post, I mentioned that York University had conducted a study examining the impact of the Blue Box transition plan on packaging prices (and subsequent effect on households). This study found that depending on locality, the increase in “basket of goods” prices resulting from the proposed legislation would range between 6% and 12% (a number that has been criticized by transition advocates). However, even if we are to set aside assumptions surrounding the direct, indirect and induced effects resulting from the proposed legislation; and assume that municipalities reduce property taxes/levies in direct proportion to the $135 million dollars resulting from the transition to 100% EPR; we are still adding (at minimum) an additional $115 million dollars in annual program costs as a result of service expansion. If we begin to add in the costs associated with building additional infrastructure, end market development, P&E and administrative expenses, it quickly becomes apparent that producers will be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars over and above what they pay today. Even if people disagree with whether these costs will be downloaded onto the consumer, costs internalized by industry can result in numerous unintended and unwelcome outcomes. Perhaps it is best to think of the issue as reducing investment in the province by $115 million dollars – can these costs be readily borne by industry, and if not, what will the outcomes be? (job loss, operational contraction etc.).

These proposed changes would be much more palatable if it resulted in superior environmental, economic, and social outcomes for Ontarians. However, the benefits of trying to recycle many of the materials that are being added to the Blue Box are highly questionable. In addition to the technical difficulties associated with trying to recycle these materials, the costs to do so are enormous. To make matters worse, the carbon savings resulting from recycling are nominal relative to the benefits of high impact materials like aluminum, OCC/OBB etc. As a result, producers are going to be paying a huge bill for the Blue Box, but to what end?

What are we trying to achieve?

Returning to the topic of opportunity cost, the primary issue is trying to determine what we want to achieve with the Blue Box. Based on what the province has put forward under the transition plan, it appears as though Ontario’s goal is to recycle more, expanding the list of accepted materials and setting the highest material specific diversion targets in North America. The Blue Box transition plan is trying to eliminate the barriers to recycling, making it simpler, easier to understand, accessible and convenient to all households. But there in lies the problem – despite Ontario’s fixation on recycling, it is not, nor has it ever been, the preferred end of life scenario. It seems a touch ironic that the Blue Box transition was announced during waste reduction week. We continue to conflate recycling with sustainability, reinforcing the narrative to households that recycling is our primary goal.

In many ways, the proposed legislation can do more harm than good – even if we are to set aside the costs of operating the system – what is it are we asking Ontarians to do? Based on the government’s announcement, we are making it as easy as possible for households to participate. While this can certainly encourage participation, it can also lead to complacency and confusion. Households (as much as possible) need to understand that not all recycling is created equal, and that waste reduction, reuse and composting are additional strategies that may be more appropriate depending on the waste in question. Our goal should not be to trying to maximize the quantity of material being put in the bin – it should be about achieving the best environmental outcome at the lowest possible cost. What good is it to have households put plastic wrap and foil trays in the Blue Bin, only for it to get tossed as residue, or downcycled at an exorbitant cost.

Proponents of a “recycling first” approach will make an argument that recycling will help maximize the full use value of a material, and ultimately help keep these materials out of landfills and our environment. I don’t disagree – however, I do think that we need to remember “what did I have to give up doing it?”.  Over the past 10 years, Ontario has spent almost 3 billion dollars on the gross costs operating the Blue Box program. During this same period, recycling rates have stalled and are trending downwards, year over year increases in operating costs are in the double digits and changes in the packaging mix have rendered existing infrastructure dated and incompatible. Was this money well spent? Could it have been better utilized on other sustainability initiatives? Could we have used that money to invest in end of life technologies that do not rely on recycling to divert material? Despite my criticism of the program, I do not have an answer for this. In hindsight, the province could have done things differently, but nobody could have predicted package light weighting, the Chinese sword and collapses in commodity prices etc. Considering these unexpected challenges, Ontario should be commended for what it has accomplished with the Blue Box. However, now is the time that we should be moving away from our reliance on recycling, not  doubling down on it.

Moving forward

When reviewing the proposed changes to the Blue Box program, I am reminded of the quote “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

For almost 20 years, we have seen the growth, maturation and success of the Blue Box, as well as the more recent challenges that have called into question its long-term viability. The current narrative surrounding Blue Box legislation is that the transition to 100% EPR producer run system will somehow be able to overcome these issues. According to the government, the Blue Box transition will usher in an era of reduced taxes, more sustainable packaging choices, new processing technology, increased accessibility, and improved diversion. Based on research done to date and experiences from other jurisdictions, it is questionable as to whether any of these things will happen.

What I find truly perplexing is the insistence that packaging producers will somehow be able to operate the system more effectively than municipalities and find solutions to the problems that plague our existing system. How exactly will producers be able to sort, process and market materials that currently have no end markets (film, multi-resin plastic, coated fiber etc.)? How will producers be able to effectively provide service to rural and northern municipalities under 5000 residents? How do we expand the steward obligation to include certain IC&I sectors, when we do not know how much waste is being generated and who is managing it? If municipalities have historically struggled to address these issues, why would producers be able to?

Handing producers the keys to the system and saying, “You figure it out”, is absolving the province of the responsibility to develop legislation that is effective, economic and equitable. It will also negatively effect Ontarians, as they will be the ones left having to pay the tab for any costs borne by industry. There are literally hundreds of millions of dollars at stake annually, so it is prudent that we make informed and reasoned decisions.

It has taken Ontario the better part of a decade to adopt a 100% EPR model for packaging waste, and now the province wants to introduce a slew of additional changes, without fully understanding the potential impacts. This was aptly highlighted when the MOECP revised their estimates surrounding the cost of the proposed changes, as they were an order of magnitude off (factor of 10). As we move forward with the new legislation, I think it is critical that the province approach any proposed change with caution, evaluating the full range of impacts to all affected stakeholders.

At a more general level though, I think it is time we re-evaluate the role of recycling in both our society and in promoting sustainability. For the better part of 30 years, we have been inundated with the message to recycle – it has been a fixture in many of our lives, and my earliest memories as a budding environmentalist was putting kraft paper in the Blue Bins in elementary school. The act of recycling makes us feels good, because we think it does good (for the environment and the economy). But that does not mean that we can’t be doing better. I do not want people to misconstrue this post or my opinion as being anti-recycling or anti-EPR – I think both can play a significant role in helping achieve our diversion and carbon abatement goals. What I do want to emphasize is that recycling will not always yield the best outcome – it is merely one tool in our tool box, and the decision to recycle something will depend on a multitude of factors that are site and situation specific. Waste reduction, reuse, composting, energy from waste and even landfilling may be preferred to recycling depending on the circumstance.

In my opinion, the Blue Box transition plan is a new coat of paint on a dated strategy – while it does move the province towards a 100% producer responsibility model, it is premised on a prescriptive “recycling first” approach. It is time for the province to start thinking “outside of the Blue Box” and identify new end of life strategies to help Ontario achieve its sustainability goals in the long run.

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About the Author

Calvin Lakhan, Ph.D, is currently co-investigator of the “Waste Wiki” project at York University (with Dr. Mark Winfield), a research project devoted to advancing understanding of waste management research and policy in Canada. He holds a Ph.D from the University of Waterloo/Wilfrid Laurier University joint Geography program, and degrees in economics (BA) and environmental economics (MEs) from York University. His research interests and expertise center around evaluating the efficacy of municipal recycling initiatives and identifying determinants of consumer recycling behavior.

Ontario’s blue box transition: Bringing individual producer responsibility to packaging

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Written by Jonathan Cocker, BLG and Denisa Mertiri, Green Earth Strategy

On October 19, 2020, Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks released a proposed regulation to govern the Ontario blue box program under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 (the RRCEA). The regulation will transition Ontario’s blue box recycling program, covering paper products and packaging (PPP), to full extended producer responsibility (EPR).

Since 2002, Ontario has operated a shared responsibility framework for EPR, with municipalities and producers each bearing half the cost of municipal blue box programs. Municipalities, however, have remained in charge of operating recycling systems. The new regulation transitions both financial and operational responsibility to producers. It also aims to refine EPR using the innovative policy mechanism of individual producer responsibility (IPR), making each individual “producer” of PPP directly and individually responsible for resource recovery of the PPP placed onto the market in the province.

Using IPR, the province aims to hold individual producers accountable for the entire lifecycle of their own products – a watershed event in the development of a circular economy for PPP.

There are a number of notable requirements in the draft regulation implementing an IPR framework for PPP in Ontario.

Expanded list of materials

Currently, the blue box system includes paper products and packaging materials. The new regulation expands this list to include “packaging-like products” and certain single-use items. By including packaging-like products, the regulation targets items that so far have been free riders in Ontario’s blue box system. These include aluminum pie plates or bags bought in bulk. These items are indistinguishable from many considered packaging, such as aluminum plates used to package pies sold in supermarkets. With respect to single-use products, the regulation targets products such as straws, cutlery, plates used to consume food, and drink containers that are “ordinarily disposed of after a single use, whether or not they could be reused.”

Ontario’s choice to include these items aligns Ontario’s list of materials with those regulated as PPP in British Columbia. BC recently announced plans to include single-use and packaging-like products in its list of obligated materials under its EPR system by 2023. Perhaps this is a sign of more cross-country harmonization on PPP regulation, consistent with the federal initiatives in this area.

Special rules for compostables

Citing challenges with determining proper management approaches for compostable materials, the new regulation imposes registration and reporting obligations with respect to compostable materials, but does not mandate collection or management requirements.

It is hoped that these lowered obligations will provide policymakers with the information necessary to determine how these materials are used in Ontario, and to suggest better approaches to their management. Only a few facilities in Canada may be able to manage compostable materials. Optical scanners at most material recovery facilities cannot sort these materials, while manual sorters cannot easily tell the difference between certain types of compostable and conventional plastics.

This arguably reflects the ongoing uncertainty around the role that bioplastics and alternatives to plastics will play in Canada’s management of PPP.

New definitions targeting online free riders?

Online retail is growing rapidly worldwide, particularly during COVID-19 when physical stores are, at times, inaccessible. Ontario is no exception to this trend. This heightened online retail activity is, however, introducing in Ontario’s market products by producers that have no presence in Ontario or Canada and may not be registering as producers or paying fees to fund Ontario’s recycling system. This scenario has exacerbated the quantities of free riders in most EPR systems, whose products are collected by local recycling systems that they do not fund. Past product stewardship laws in Canada have reinforced this divide by only obligating resident sellers.

The draft regulation appears to address this challenge by designating “marketplace facilitators” that contract with “marketplace sellers” as producers if they are resident in Canada. The regulation defines “marketplace facilitator” as a person who,

(a) contracts with marketplace sellers to facilitate the supply of the marketplace seller’s products by,

(i) owning or operating an online marketplace or forum in which the marketplace seller’s products are listed or advertised for supply, or

(ii) transmitting or otherwise communicating the offer or acceptance between the marketplace seller and a buyer, and

(b) provides for the physical distribution of a marketplace seller’s products to the consumer, such as by the storage, preparation, or shipping of products

This definition appears to capture many online retailers who make the products of many sellers available to Ontarians.

Annual allocation table

Most surprisingly, the regulation also sets out a number of rules that will govern the creation of an “annual allocation table,” the first of which should be submitted as early as March 31, 2022. These rules help to determine which producers will be responsible for collecting from which sources, notionally allocating to them specific residences, facilities or public spaces each year.

The rules also set out the factors to be considered in the making of these allocations. Although the regulation leaves allocation decisions with producers and their producer responsibility organizations (PROs), once in force, the rules will have a regulatory effect over all producers and PROs in the system.

The allocation method is a novel approach to regulating producer responsibility and appears to run counter prior provincial commentary that the new blue box regulation under the RRCEA would be outcomes-focused and not prescriptive as to the manner in which producers chose to fulfill their obligations. The possibility that the Minister might either police existing rules, or even make rules for producers and/or their PROs should they fail to successfully do so themselves, appears to deviate from the free market foundations of this IPR model.

Conclusion

The new blue box regulation under the RRCEA is innovative in its decisions to implement a policy as complex as IPR for PPP. In addition to the novel approaches already discussed, many others bear mentioning, including reducing management requirements for use of recycled content in products, and joint and several liability between and among producers and their PROs for certain obligations under the regulation.

The proposed regulation is available for public comment for 45 days (until December 3, 2020). In addition, the province is also looking for feedback on amendments to Regulation 101/94 under Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act. Regulation 101/94 sets rules for recycling and composting municipal waste and standards for blue box waste management systems, including collection, acceptance, transportation and processing. As much is changing, stakeholders may have a lot to say before Ontario finalizes the new PPP regime.

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About the Authors

Jonathan Cocker, a partner at BLG, provides advice and representation to multinational companies on a variety of environmental and product compliance matters, including extended producer responsibilities, dangerous goods transportation, GHS, regulated wastes, consumer product and food safety, and contaminated lands matters. He assisted in the founding of one of North America’s first Circular Economy Producer Responsibility Organizations and provides advice and representation to a number of domestic and international industry groups in respect of resource recovery obligations.

Denisa Mertiri J.D., is the founder of Green Earth Strategy. Green Earth Strategy advises industry, cities and government on how to create and maintain practical and effective circular economy and waste management strategies with staying power.

Woolwich Bio-En Inc. expands Anaerobic Digestion Operations

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The Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) recently amended the renewable energy approval for the Woolwich Bio-En Inc. Anaerobic Digestion Facility. This Class 3 Anaerobic Digestion facility generates 2.85 megawatts of electricity and 3.02 megawatts of heat from the biogas produced from a variety of organic materials, including, but not limited to the following:

  • source separated organics
  • organics from food processing facilities, grocery stores, food distribution companies, and milling facilities
  • livestock manure
  • glycerol
  • kitchen waste
  • fats, oil, and grease
  • renewable energy crops (i.e., corn silage)
  • organic solids skimmed from dissolved air flotation tanks

The facility includes an operations building and a processing building. The operations building houses the reciprocating engines and other equipment to perform facility operations and control. The processing building receives organic materials and contains equipment to prepare and blend the organic material prior to being fed into the anaerobic digestion equipment.

The facility uses three pre-treatment tanks, two main digester tanks and one repository tank to generate and store biogas. The biogas is combusted in reciprocating engines to produce renewable heat and power.

The facility is expected to emit air contaminants including products of combustion, volatile organic compounds and potentially odour; however, the facility has been designed with state-of-the-art emissions control equipment (i.e. a biofilter) to mitigate the potential emissions of air contaminants and odour from activities including organic unloading, processing and digestate loading.

The following changes have been approved as part of the amendment:

  • Increased annual tonnage from 70,000 tonnes to 110,000 tonnes per year although there has been no change to the approved maximum daily tonnage of 750 tonnes per day.
  • Increased production rate of biogas purification from 127 m3/h to 1,000 m3/h.
  • Change in truck movements from 80 trucks to 160 truck movements per day.
  • Comprehensive approval with operational flexibility to allow Woolwich Bio-En Inc. the ability to make minor modifications that improve operations without any significant environmental impact.
  • Allowance to ship cleaned, de-packed slurry to another anaerobic digestion facility.
  • Changes to allow some flexibility of feedstock materials received.Being able to accept new types of biomass increases the flexibility of waste received at the facility.

The October 29, 2019 amendment application also proposed the addition of propylene glycol to the allowed feedstock list; however, this addition has since been removed from the amendment application. The applicant is no longer requesting propylene glycol as a feedstock.

The ministry requested that Woolwich Bio-En Inc. hold a public meeting to consult on the proposed changes. A public meeting was held in Elmira on January 29, 2020.

This amendment has been approved in accordance with the requirements of Part V.0.1 of the Environmental Protection Act and the Renewable Energy Approvals Regulation (Ontario Regulation 359/09).

Ontario: New E-Waste Stewardship Regulations

The Government of Ontario recently released final electronic stewardship regulations for the province. (The Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) Regulation under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016, was filed on September 21, 2020.

As a next step, The Ontario Government is making EEE producers fully responsible for managing their products by transitioning the existing Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) program to Ontario Regulation 522/20.

This transition will put in place a new framework that:

  • makes individual EEE producers responsible for the collection and end-of-life management of EEE they supply into Ontario
  • will give EEE producers more control over how they safely manage their EEE and improve environmental outcomes

New requirements for EEE

The EEE regulation requires producers of information technology, telecommunications and audio visual (ITTAV) equipment and lighting to:

  • establish free collection networks for consumers
  • achieve management requirements through reduction, reuse and/or recycling activities
  • provide promotion and education materials until the end of 2022 for ITTAV and the end of 2024 for lighting to increase consumer awareness
  • register, report, keep records, and undertake audits related to management activities

Producers of ITTAV equipment are required to register by November 30, 2020 and their collection and management obligations will begin on January 1, 2021. For lighting, producers are required to register by November 30, 2022 and begin their collection and management obligations on January 1, 2023.

Similar to the batteries regulation, the EEE regulation makes individual producers legally responsible for meeting the requirements. However, to facilitate an efficient delivery model and allow for economies of scale, producers would have the flexibility to meet their obligations individually, or collaboratively with other producers, by retaining service providers.

Most service providers (e.g. producer responsibility organizations, haulers, processors and specified refurbishers) will be required to register, report and keep records. Collectors are only required to keep records.

The End of Landfills in Ontario? Proposed amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act and the Impact on Waste Management

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Written by Harry Dahme and Jessica Boily, Gowlings WLG

On July 8, 2020, the Ontario government introduced Bill 197 in the Legislative Assembly. Entitled the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, the proposed changes within the Bill amend twenty different Acts, including the Environmental Assessment Act.

While some of the amendments proposed in Bill 197 seek to address challenges encountered during COVID-19 (such as the changes to the Provincial Offences Act, covered in our COVID-19 Update), the Bill primarily includes reforms that were on the government’s agenda prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. These reforms include some of the most significant reforms to Ontario’s environmental assessment regime in many years. The Gowling WLG Environmental Law Group will be publishing a series of articles on these proposed reforms, which are expected to be fast-tracked through the Legislature this week.

From the point of view of waste management in Ontario, one of the most significant changes to be made by the Bill is the addition of a new section to the Environmental Assessment Act that would give municipalities the right to veto new landfills proposed to be located within their own borders or in adjacent municipalities where the proposed new landfill is within 3.5 kilometers of the municipal border. This amendment to the EAA would provide municipalities with the unprecedented ability to stop new landfills for any reason, even where the environmental assessment for that landfill would otherwise be satisfactory to the provincial government.

Demand the right coalition emerges

In 2018, Ingersoll Mayor, Ted Comiskey, started the “Demand the Right” Coalition of Ontario Municipalities, seeking support from other municipalities for legislation that would allow municipalities to say no to projects like windfarms and landfills.

On March 1, 2018, Ernie Hardeman, MPP for Oxford, the riding that includes Ingersoll, introduced a private members bill dealing with the issue. Bill 201Respecting Municipal Authority over Landfilling Sites Act, 2018, would have amended the EAA to prevent the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks from giving approval to an undertaking unless the municipal council had passed a resolution supporting the establishment of the landfilling site. The Bill did not receive Second Reading in the Legislature and died on the Order Paper when the Legislature was dissolved for the last provincial election.

During that election in 2018, Doug Ford stated that he respected “the right for local municipalities to make the decisions best for their communities.”

Following the election in 2018, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (“MECP”) released the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, which stated it intended to provide “municipalities and communities they represent with a say in landfill siting approvals “. No firm commitment to a veto was made at that time and there were no consultations on the proposed amendments to the EAA affecting landfills prior to the introduction of Bill 197.

The state of landfill capacity in Ontario

Many Ontarians are not aware of the waste disposal crisis in which Ontario finds itself. The Ontario Waste Management Association reports that unless new landfills are built, Ontario’s landfill capacity will be exhausted by 2032. More than 80% of this capacity is located within a small number of sites (15 public and private landfills). These predictions assume that Ontario will continue to export approximately 30% of its waste to the United States, primarily to landfill sites in Michigan and New York. Should those exports stop, Ontario’s landfill capacity would be exhausted by 2028: only eight years from now. This is significant since it takes years, and sometimes more than a decade, to obtain approval for a new landfilling site.

Even before the introduction of Bill 197, the length and uncertainty of the environmental assessment process for new landfills and expansions to existing landfills meant that this crisis was not improving. While increased waste diversion is a laudable goal, even with significantly improved waste diversion rates, existing landfill capacity will be put under significant pressure in the next ten years.

Bill 197

Given the near future waste disposal crisis in the province, there is a demonstrated need for new landfills to be built and existing landfills to be expanded. While Bill 197 aims to streamline existing environmental assessment processes for some projects, it introduces a municipal veto over new landfills that is expected to almost entirely halt the planning for and building of new landfills in Ontario.

Section 10 of Schedule 6 to Bill 197 proposes to amend the EAA by adding a new section 6.01, which would provide that proponents who wish to establish a landfilling site that is subject to Part II of the EAA obtain “municipal support” for the undertaking. Municipal support must be obtained, not only from the local municipality in which the landfilling site is situated, but from any other municipality located within a 3.5 km distance from the property boundary of the proposed landfilling site. This support, as set out in s. 6.01(5), is demonstrated by providing a copy of a municipal council resolution from each of the municipalities, indicating that the municipality supports the undertaking.

This requirement applies to not only new future landfill proposals but also to landfills currently undergoing the environmental assessment process, even though EAA approval had been previously obtained for the Terms of Reference for that environmental assessment process and even though the environmental assessment process was proceeding in compliance with the approved Terms of Reference.

Proposed section 6.01 applies only to landfills, as opposed to all types of waste management facilities based on the definition of “landfilling site” which is defined as a waste disposal site where landfilling occurs.

While section 6.01 certainly applies to new landfills within the province, it could also potentially  be read to apply to expansions of existing large landfills as well. Section 6.01(3) states that the section applies “in respect of a proponent who wishes to proceed with an undertaking to establish a waste disposal site that, (a) is a landfilling site; and (b) is subject to this Part.” While the plain meaning of “establish”, which connotes the initial or first approval and construction of a project, is consistent with the meaning used within the Environmental Protection Act in the context of waste disposal sites, “establish” is not defined within the EAA itself. This leads to the possibility that the unique characteristics of any landfill expansion could lead to an interpretation that the expansion involves the establishment of a waste disposal site. If that interpretation is adopted, then that has huge ramifications with respect to the future availability of landfill capacity in Ontario, exacerbating even more the imminent waste disposal crisis in Ontario.


NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on this website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. Gowling WLG professionals will be pleased to discuss resolutions to specific legal concerns you may have.

 

About the Authors

Harry Dahme is a partner in Gowling WLG’s Toronto office and past leader of the firm’s Environmental Law Group. He has practised exclusively in the area of environmental law since 1984, and has a solid reputation as one of the foremost environmental lawyers in Canada. Harry is certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a specialist in environmental law, and is described by Who’s Who Legal: Canada 2014 as “widely regarded as a leading authority in the field,” by Legal 500 Canada 2017 as “absolutely fantastic” and by Acritas Stars 2017 as “an acknowledged expert in environmental law.”
Jessica Boily is an environmental lawyer in Gowling WLG’s Toronto office. Her practice focuses on environmental litigation, drawing on her commercial litigation background to achieve successful and cost-effective outcomes. She uses her procedural expertise and technical knowledge to advocate for her clients. Jessica understands that complex disputes require creative scientific and legal approaches. Her clients appreciate her practical advice when managing and resolving multi-party environmental disputes. When litigation is necessary, her clients know her courtroom and tribunal experience will help them achieve the outcome they want.

Environmental Regulatory Compliance in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec During COVID-19

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Written by Sabrina Spencer, Dufferin Harper, Jonathan W. Kahn, Charles Kazaz, and Sydney McLauchlan, Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP

In light of ongoing uncertainty of the duration of COVID-19 and its impact on industrial operations and despite the federal government only committing to the exercise of “enforcement discretion,” several provinces have recently acted to temporarily relax numerous environmental notice, reporting and compliance requirements. This bulletin provides an update on the changes introduced over the past several weeks by the governments of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. For initial governmental actions pertaining to environmental regulatory compliance requirements during the current COVID-19 pandemic, and measures businesses can take to protect themselves, please refer to our March 2020 Blakes Bulletin: Environmental Regulatory Compliance During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (MOE) has issued a notice stating that authorization requirements under the Environmental Management Act (EMA) and the Integrated Pest Management Act (IPMA) remain in effect and all reasonable measures should be taken to comply. If an authorization holder is unable to meet its requirements due to the impact of orders, directives or guidance issued by B.C. in response to COVID-19, the MOE requires notice of the non-compliance, including a rationale as to how the compliance issue is related to COVID-19 and information on mitigative measures being taken. Notice regarding non-compliance pursuant to the EMA must be provided to [email protected], while notice regarding non-compliance pursuant to the IPMA must be provided to [email protected]. The MOE will take into consideration directives and guidance from the public health officer when addressing non-compliances.

On March 27, 2020, the Chief Gold Commissioner issued a blanket order extending timelines in relation to all claims and licenses under the Mineral Tenure Act, as well as in relation to all coal licenses and leases under the Coal Act. The time to make cash in lieu or register work on claims that have expiry dates before December 31, 2021, is extended to December 31, 2021. Claims with expiry dates past this date are not subject to this order. For mining and placer leases, as well as coal leases and licenses, the time to register the annual rental payment, which is normally on the anniversary date, is extended to December 31, 2021.

Also on March 27, 2020, a notice was issued jointly by the Environmental Appeal Board, the Forest Appeals Tribunal and the Oil and Gas Appeal Tribunal suspending mandatory timeframes, effective March 18, 2020, for the filing of appeals at all three tribunals. The suspension of timeframes will remain in effect until further notice at the end of the COVID-19 public health crisis.

On April 1, 2020, OIC 158/2020 was approved to amend regulations made pursuant to the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act. OIC 158/2020 gives the director discretion to accept incomplete emission reports or compliance reports (i.e. either missing required information or a verification statement) for the reporting period ending December 31, 2019 (2019 GHG Reporting), and to provide up to six months for the missing information to be provided. The OIC also gives the director discretion to extend the submission deadline for 2019 GHG Reporting by up to six months. Finally, the OIC gives the director discretion to conduct any site visit required in relation to 2019 GHG Reporting virtually and in accordance with the director’s directions. Details on how this discretion will be exercised have not been provided.

On April 8, 2020, the Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) issued Industry Bulletin 2020-09, extending the payment deadline for the 2019/20 pipeline annual levy from 30 to 90 days. The OGC has also indicated that it will continue to undertake proactive inspections, with modified procedures to maintain social distancing which may include requesting site photographs from company representatives in lieu of site visits where possible. The OGC will also continue to take enforcement action where necessary. The OGC has also provided direction in relation to its modified operations, including new procedures related to core samples and drill cuttings, in its COVID-19 Response for Industry bulletin, which will be updated as operations continue to evolve in response to COVID-19.

ALBERTA

On March 30, 2020, the Minister of Environment and Parks, issued Order 15/2020 and Order 16/2020, which relaxed certain reporting requirements under the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) Regulation and the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) Regulation, respectively. On March 31, 2020, the Minister issued Order 17/2020, which relaxed requirements under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA), the Water Act (WA) and the Public Lands Act (PLA). On the same day, the Director of Air Policy issued a temporary amendment to requirements under the Air Monitoring Directive (AMD). On April 6, 2020, the Minister of Energy issued Order 219/2020 which relaxed requirements under the Oil and Gas Conservation Act (OGCA), Coal Conservation Act (CCA) and Oil Sands Conservation Act (OSCA).

Order 15/2020 modifies the TIER Regulation by extending the deadline to submit 2019 compliance reports and emissions reduction plan reports, and Order 16/2020 modifies the RFS Regulation by extending the deadline for fuel suppliers, approved contributors, and renewable fuel providers to submit 2019 compliance reports, both from March 31, 2020, to June 30, 2020.

Order 17/2020 modifies the EPEA suspending all requirements to report information pursuant to provisions in approvals or registrations issued under EPEA. Similarly, reporting entities are no longer required to report information relating to provisions in licenses or approvals issued under the WA. Finally, all disposition requirements to submit returns or reports are suspended under the PLA. Drinking water facilities are not captured by these amendments however and must continue to follow all terms and conditions of the authorizations, including the required reporting.

Order 219/2020 modifies the CCA and the OSCA by suspending various reporting requirements, including annual reporting, exploration reporting and all plans within approval conditions, except conditions related to geotechnical reporting requirements. It also modifies the OGCA by suspending various reporting requirements. All initial suspension requirements for inactive wells that are not part of the Well Compliance Program and considered low and medium-risk type 6 are suspended, in addition to ongoing inspection requirements. For inactive wells in the Well Compliance program, the compliance deadline is suspended for the final program year.

The relaxation to requirements set out in Orders 15, 16, 17 and 219/2020 are in effect until August 14, 2020, or 60 days after the Order in Council 080/2020 is terminated (if done so before June 15, 2020), or when terminated by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, or by the Minister.

In addition, from March 31, 2020, to December 31, 2020, several AMD reporting requirements are relaxed including: reduced frequency of ambient continuous air monitoring station calibrations, station manifold and inlet cleaning; removal to report “calendar day” in AMD reporting forms; three-month extension for completion and submission of 2019 Annual Emissions Inventory Report; removal to immediately report exceedances of Ambient Air Quality Guidelines until August 31, 2020; and two-month extension for submission of airshed monthly air monitoring summary reports and ambient data.

ONTARIO

The Government of Ontario has promised guidance relating to requirements for monitoring and reporting during the COVID-19 crisis, but thus far no guidance has been provided and all monitoring and reporting obligations under regulations and approvals remain in force. Operationally, anecdotal experience suggests that some Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks offices are showing flexibility from an enforcement perspective, but this appears to be largely an ad hoc approach in situations where compliance is not achievable.

The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks has announced that it is temporarily exempting all Ontario Ministries from the requirement to post proposals for instruments on the Environmental Registry, ostensibly to allow the Government to respond quickly to time sensitive needs of the Government and various regulated entities.

As set out in previous Blakes bulletins, the Ontario courts have suspended various civil proceedings and the Government of Ontario has suspended limitation periods and various procedural time limits. The Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal has confirmed that all in-person Environmental Review Tribunal hearings will be postponed but it is where possible carrying on with interlocutory and procedural matters by teleconference.

QUEBEC

The Quebec Ministry of the Environment and Fight against Climate Change (MELCC) has issued guidance on its website regarding compliance inspection activities during the COVID-19 state of emergency. The MELCC has indicated that it will need to adjust its delivery of compliance services to be consistent with the government position on COVID-19 that is focused on social distancing and take into account the challenges faced by businesses.

Under the MELCC guidance, businesses must do everything they can to avoid causing damage to the environment and they must continue to comply with legal obligations for situations that may have a direct impact on the health and safety of the population as well as on the quality of the environment.

Compliance inspections by the MELCC, other than those related to responding to environmental emergencies, responding to complaints and monitoring of drinking water, will be limited and performed in situations where there is a significant risk to the quality of the environment or the health and safety of the population.

The MELCC has also indicated that it will be tolerant with businesses whose ability to comply with environmental obligations are affected by the restrictions put in place as a result of the COVID-19 emergency measures, particularly in relation to compliance with administrative requirements, such as requirement to transmit reports. In the majority of non-compliance situations, enforcement measures will not be used. However, the MELCC reserves the right to do so if the situation requires action. Specifically, enforcement measures, such as notices of non-compliance and administrative monetary penalties, will be limited and adapted to the current COVID-19 situation. If situations of non-compliance cause significant risks to the environment or to the health and safety of the population, the government will assess the action to be taken, taking into account the emergency situation and the context specific to each case.

The MELCC has also announced that it will temporarily exempt companies who seek to convert their operations in order to participate in efforts to combat COVID-19 from obtaining environmental authorization that would normally be required to modify an activity—for example, an increase in production—or to add an activity—for example, the design of new products. The MELCC must be notified of the activity to undertaken and receive confirmation of the exemption from the Minister, which will be delivered with 48 hours.

SUMMARY

The impact of COVID-19 is rapidly evolving and there are no clear answers or timeframe for the crisis to end. To help navigate the challenges, Blakes has consolidated resources on a range of topics relating to COIVD-19 and its business and legal implications.

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About the Authors

Sabrina Spencer is an Associate at Blakes’ Vancouver offices.  Sabrina’s practice focuses on environmental, indigenous and municipal law, and includes project development matters, real property matters, regulatory compliance, indigenous consultation and accommodation, and commercial transactions and agreements.

Dufferin Harper (Duff) is a Partner at Blakes’ Calgary offices.  He practices in the areas of environmental law, commercial litigation and regulatory law. He routinely acts for clients on environmental due diligence and liability issues, especially as they pertain to brownfield redevelopment and transportation of dangerous goods.

Jonathan W. Kahn is a Partner at Blakes’ Toronto offices.  He is widely regarded as one of Canada’s leading environmental lawyers. For more than 25 years, he has provided representation and advice on a broad range of environmental and natural resources law issues.

Charles Kazaz practices all aspects of environmental law at Blakes. He advises clients in the commercial, industrial, mining and waste-management sectors. Charles is based in both Montréal and Toronto and has extensive expertise in environmental aspects of corporate, commercial and property transactions, project development, regulatory compliance and liability issues.

Sydney McLauchlan is an articling student at Blakes. She obtained her J.D. from Queen’s University Belfast.

 

 

Ontario looking to revamp recycling and plastic waste programs

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The Ontario government recently appointed a special advisor to assist in revamping the Province’s recycling programs.

The Ontario government has engaged David Lindsay, currently the President and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities, as a Special Advisor on Recycling and Plastic Waste prepare a report by the end of the summer on how to tackle plastic waste and litter, improve recycling, increase products that can go into the blue box, and ensure producers are responsible for managing plastic and other packaging at end-of-life.

Ontario Environment Ministry, Rod Phillips, stated in the news release that he was engaging Mr. Lindsay in an effort to find solutions to the Province’s languid recycling rates. The current Blue Box Program has been in place since the 1980s and had world-renowned success in recovering residential printed paper and packaging for recycling. However, Ontario’s waste diversion rates have stalled at just over 60 per cent for the past 15 years.

“Ontario families take pride in doing their part for the environment. In fact, our own city of Kitchener was the birthplace of the world’s first Blue Box program,” said Minister Phillips. “Knowing this, I was disappointed to learn that, while Ontario families work to sort and recycle properly, government and industry are failing them. Ontario’s recycling rates have been stalled for 15 years and up to 30 per cent of what is put into blue boxes is sent to landfill. Not to mention, recent stories highlight how some of Ontario’s plastic waste is being unsustainably shipped across the ocean to the Philippines and Malaysia.”

In the open-facing letter to the Special Advisor, the Environment Minister has requested that work be guided by the following public policy objectives:

  • Standardization across the province of what can be recycled in offices, parks, public spaces and homes;
  • Improve diversion rates and increase what materials can be recycled;
  • Reduce litter and waste in communities and parks;
  • Improve Ontario’s Blue Box Program by requiring producers to pay for the recycling of the products they produce, through achieving producer responsibility;
  • Maintain or improve frequency of Blue Box collection; and
  • When increasing diversion in the residential sector, consider how these policies can also enable diversion in the institutional, commercial and industrial sector.

As Special Advisor, Mr. Lindsay has limited direct experience with waste issues. Prior to his current role as the President and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities, he was President and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada and of Colleges Ontario, an advocacy organization for the province’s 24 colleges of applied arts and technology. Mr. Lindsay has experience in the Ontario Public Service previously holding the position of Deputy Minister for the Energy and Infrastructure, Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, Natural Resources, and Tourism and Culture portfolios.

David Lindsay

“I’m looking forward to helping Ontario’s municipalities and producers work together to address plastic litter and improve recycling in our province,” said David Lindsay. “Having stakeholders come together to identify concerns and find solutions will be integral to reinvigorating the province’s Blue Box Program and solving the problem of plastic litter and waste.”

In the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, Ontario committed to transitioning the costs of the Blue Box Program away from municipal taxpayers to make the producers of products and packaging fully responsible. Shifting to producer responsibility will obligate producers across the province to pay for and manage their materials. Based on 2017 costs, municipalities would save about $125 – $175 million annually once full producer responsibility for the Blue Box Program is put in place.

Reducing plastic waste and litter and making producers responsible for the end-of-life management of their products is a key part of Ontario’s Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.

Ontario Government issues Waste Reduction Discussion Paper

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The Ontario government recently released a discussion document entitled
Reducing Litter and Waste in Our Communities: Discussion Paper
, which reaffirms the Province’s commitment to the 3Rs and diversion from landfill including Ontario’s curbside Blue Box Program, municipal green bin programs for organics, and other waste recovery options.

The 29-page discussion document expands upon the commitments made by the Ontario government in December 2018 when it released Preserving and Protecting our Environment for Future Generations: A Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan. The paper poses questions that will help guide future decision-making to divert more waste from landfill.

The Discussion Paper acknowledges that existing and emerging technologies are increasingly allowing society to recover and recycle materials back into the economy rather than sending them to landfill. This is helping society to better protect communities and keep the air, land and water clean and healthy.

The discussion paper outlines eight key areas for action:

  1. prevent and reduce litter in our neighbourhoods and parks
  2. increase opportunities for Ontarians to reduce and divert waste at home, at work and on the go
  3. make producers responsible for the waste generated from their products and packaging
  4. reduce and divert food and organic waste from households and businesses
  5. reduce plastic waste going into landfills and waterways
  6. provide clear rules for compostable products and packaging
  7. recover the value of resources in waste
  8. support competitive and sustainable end-markets for Ontario’s waste

These eight areas of action are the steps the the government will take to make waste reduction, reuse, and recycling easier.

One key aspect of the discussion paper is the commitment by the government to making producers responsible for the waste generated by their products and packaging, encouraging them to find new and innovative cost-effective ways to recycle their products and lower costs for consumers. If the proposals in the discussion document are implemented, the transition to extended producer responsibility will increase the amount of household material recycled, while shifting the cost of recycling from municipalities – and taxpayers – to producers.

The discussion paper sets out goals, actions and performance measures and outlines how the government will decrease the amount of waste going to landfill and increase the province’s overall diversion rate.

The discussion paper is posted on the Ontario Environmental Registry for public comment. The deadline for public comment is April 20th 2019. The government states that the feedback on the discussion paper will help the province to move forward with a clear, comprehensive and outcome-based approach to reducing litter and waste.