The Problem & Opportunity with Waste Diversion
Yet another round of controversy has erupted over Ontario’s recycling eco fees.
These eco fee controversies have become commonplace under Ontario’s current recycling framework. Unfortunately, they eclipse the important environmental and economic benefits that come with increased waste diversion.
As a recent Ontario study indicates the economic benefits of recycling and reuse are immense – roughly seven jobs are created for every thousand tonnes of waste diverted, and the economic benefits of mandated waste diversion programs are four times greater than the net cost to recycle.
The fact is the Used Tire Program has been successful in increasing the amount of tires recycled, removing stockpiles, and generating jobs and investment in Ontario. However, it like Ontario’s other recycling programs, is a product of broken legislation that stakeholders and the four political parties all agree needs to change.
At the root of the problem are purchasing monopolies, which lack transparency, accountability and restrict competition and innovation. Eco fees are a symptom of these monopolies.
The Minister of the Environment recently announced that new waste diversion legislation is forthcoming. This legislation cannot come soon enough so we can move beyond hobbling from crisis to crisis and build a regulatory framework around recycling that actually works.
New legislation must address the current issues of transparency, accountability, competition and increase waste diversion. If done right it represents an enormous economic and environmental opportunity for the province.
Director of Policy
Ontario Waste Management Association