Archived Letter – 567

Time for Ontario to Become a Leader in Waste Diversion

“More recycling means more jobs. When we recycle another 1000 tonnes of waste, seven new jobs are created.” (Jim Bradley, Environment Minister, June 6, 2013)

“Not only is it the right thing to do for the environment, but waste reduction and recycling offer huge potential economic benefits in terms of job creation.” (Jonah Schein, NDP Environment Critic, June 6, 2013)

“Ontario needs to divert more waste from landfills in order to protect our environment and create good-paying jobs in the recycling sector.” (Michael Harris, PC Environment Critic, April 24, 2013)

Rarely does the need for action on an issue produce consensus among Ontario’s three main political parties, but the benefits of growing waste diversion in the province are significant enough that calls for action transcend party lines.

Our political leaders understand that the manner in which we manage our waste impacts all Ontarians daily lives not only from an environmental perspective but also from an economic and social perspective.

Over the last two decades, we have all struggled to make progress on waste diversion. The overall recycling rate in Ontario has remained relatively stagnant at under 25%. As a result, the vast majority of our waste remains destined for disposal and almost 4 million tonnes of industrial and commercial waste is exported to U.S. disposal facilities.

The current Waste Diversion Act has become an impediment to increasing diversion and creating jobs and investment.
Each of the political parties can take credit for successes the province has made on waste diversion and likewise each can accept some of the blame. This is however not the time to point fingers. We need to focus on the future, not the past.

We need to begin to reduce the amount of waste we create in this province and begin to capture lost resources. This is what other jurisdictions around the world are doing to promote economic growth, create well-paid jobs and meet environmental objectives. We need to value our waste as a source of raw materials that can be rerouted into Ontario’s economy after proper processing.

A recent Ontario study found that every 1000 tonnes of material diverted from landfills generates over 7 full-time equivalent jobs, $711 000 in GDP, and $360 000 in wages. Additionally, the economic benefits of diverting waste are four times greater than the net cost to recycle. This study re-enforces numerous other studies that highlight the overall benefits of greater waste diversion to the economy.

The proposed Waste Reduction Act is not perfect but it offers a unique opportunity for all three political parties to work together in the interests of all Ontarians to re-establish the province as an economic leader in resource management.

On eve of Waste Reduction Week (October 21-27), we urge MPPs to seize this opportunity by moving this legislation forward so the appropriate amendments can be consulted on, discussed and made.

Peter Hargreave, Director of Policy, Ontario Waste Management Association