Ontario’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) introduced bill 151, known as the Waste-Free Act as well as the new Strategy for a Waste Free Ontario: Building The Circular Economy. This announcement is long overdue and comes more than 2 years after bill 91 was introduced and eventually abandoned. Ever since bill 91 was released, RCC has been an active advocate of ensuring industry stewards could have more influence on program costs, operations and ultimately performance. In this respect, the proposed Act and Strategy suggest a major change following bill 91 and are very close to what RCC asked during bill 91 consultations. The government approach aligns with the general principles RCC has been putting forward in the past years:

  • Harmonization with other Canadian jurisdictions;
  • Ensure level playing field for all stewards;
  • Let stewards decide between collective or individual response;
  • Enhanced transparency and accountability required for stewardship organizations;
  • Silent on fees;
  • Allows for competition, if warranted.

Core features of the Legislation:

  • Replace Industry Funded Organizations (IFOs) mandated in the past 12 years by the Waste Diversion Act (Stewardship Ontario for blue box and MHSW, Ontario Electronic Stewardship and Ontario Tire Stewardship) and allow competition if warranted;
  • Implement outcome-based Full Producer Responsibility: extend individual producers’ obligations beyond the current requirement to remit fees, giving producers the choice to fulfill their obligations individually or in collectives. Online retailers are named in the definition of responsible persons under the proposed Act.
  • Replace the Waste Diversion Act, 2002 – Change Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) into the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority with responsibility
    • oversee programs’ transition;
    • receiving and storing data from producers, collectives, municipalities;
    • compliance and enforcement, such as designating materials under the new framework, and identifying persons responsible for meeting obligations regarding products and packaging sold to consumers in Ontario;
  • Transition would be regulated through the Waste Diversion Transition Act that would be repealed once the new programs replacing current IFOs are all operating

Additional items in the Strategy:

  • Transition will start with IFO-run programs mandated under WDA, such as Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES), and then transition will move to full Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for blue box (to start in 2016-2017).
  • Consult on disposal bans for designated materials (2017-2018) and organics and additional materials (2019).
  • Energy from waste not considered waste diversion.

Issues on which we will need more information or to be confirmed by reading the Legislation:

  • Strategy identifies the following materials as potential new producer responsibility regimes: household appliances, carpets, furniture, mattresses. The strategy aims at starting designating new materials as early as next year. RCC will make sure to point out our disagreement on adding these to the list of designated materials.
  • It remains unclear if the Industrial Commercial & Institutional (ICI) sector is to be covered by the new programs or not.
  • Blue box: going potentially to full EPR will likely trigger lots of municipal backlash.
  • It remains unclear whether the new Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority will have the power to pursue free riders.
  • It remains unclear if proposed transitional timelines for EPR programs and Blue Box are realistic: for instance, Blue Box transition may take longer than what is indicated in the Strategy.
  • Proposed consultation process seems too long.

The strategy document is available here and the summary of the Act here. The full version of bill 151 will be available here in the coming days.

Next steps:

  • RCC will review the Act and will take part in the Information Session for the Proposed Waste-Free Ontario Framework on December 3, 2015.
  • RCC will consult with members of its EPR/Stewardship committee on the position to put forward.
  • RCC will provide feedback to the MOECC within the provided deadline (February 24, 2016).
  • RCC will continue to actively participate in stakeholder consultations and will keep direct contact with staff at the MOECC.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact: Gary Rygus, Director, Government Relations (Ontario) at: [email protected] or 416-467-3744 or Philippe Cantin, Manager, Environment at [email protected] or 514-316-8771