Legislation: Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016
Managed by: Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority and Stewardship Ontario
On June 9, 2016, Bill 151 – An Act to enact the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 (‘RRCEA’) and the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016 (‘WTDA’) - received Royal Assent.
This new legislation - called the Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016 - is designed to replace the Waste Diversion Act, 2002 (‘WDA’) with a new producer responsibility framework that makes producers individually responsible and accountable for their products and packaging at end of life.
Under the new regime, all recycling programs will become fully-extended producer responsibility programs, with producers paying 100% of the costs and managing the system. The government has indicated that they will not be transferring the Blue Box program to the new system until 2023. News Media Canada's key goal is to ensure that the newspaper industry continues its existing in-kind agreement until that time.
The in-kind contribution is distributed among the province’s daily and community newspapers allotted to the province’s 400+ municipalities so that they may use it to place free advertising to encourage recycling.
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment was established in 1972, with the merging of the Department of the Environment and the Ontario Water Resources Commission.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario’s municipal governments and provides a variety of services and products to members and non-members.
Stewardship Ontario: Industry Funding Organization that allocates costs to industry partners in a 50-50 split with the municipalities
Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority: Proclaimed on November 30, 2016, as part of the new Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016. RPRA replaces Waste Diversion Ontario, a non-crown corporation created under the Waste Diversion Act (WDA) in 2002 to develop, implement and operate waste diversion programs for a wide range of materials.
Ontario’s Waste Diversion Act, 2002 requires all companies that introduce packaging and printed material into Ontario’s consumer marketplace (“Stewards”) to share in paying 50% of the funding of Ontario’s municipal Blue Box waste diversion programs. Under the new Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016, this will increase to 100%.
- 1972 - Early Days: Newspapers were recycled as a public service as early as 1972 in a City of Toronto initiative. The Blue Box program began as a pilot project in Kitchener in 1981.
- 1986 – Government subsidizes recycling costs: Starting in 1986 the Provincial government reimbursed municipalities for a portion of their operating costs (labour costs, gasoline, etc) for their Blue Box programs
- 1997 – Provincial funding ends: With provincial funding ending completely at the end of 1997, municipalities had only recycled material revenues and municipal taxes to support the Blue Box program.
- 1998 – Province’s Blue Box Program requires industry to contribute: On October 7, the Minister of the Environment announced his plan for the Blue Box program. This initiative called on industry to contribute voluntarily.
- 2000 – Canadian Newspaper Association successfully negotiates a special arrangement for Ontario newspapers. Dailies and weeklies would be exempt from subsidizing the Blue Box program in cash. In lieu, they would provide in-kind advertising to promote waste diversion in Ontario. Newspapers are nevertheless required to contribute cash payments to bear the administrative costs of Stewardship Ontario (SO) and Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) for the implementation of the in-kind program.Newspapers’ obligation increases.
- 2005 - The Government of Ontario enshrined the in-kind model for newspapers’ contribution, through an amendment to the Blue Box Program, thus ending several years of discussion led by municipalities. In enshrining the arrangement with newspapers, the Government of Ontario recognized the extraordinary success of newspaper recycling in the province. Recovery rates for ONP in Ontario have climbed to over 90%, easily one of the highest recovery rates in the world.
- 2007 - Canadian Newspaper Association's obligation was increased to providing municipalities an advertising insert promoting waste diversion in Ontario. Newspapers inserted an 8.5" X 11" flyer into one edition.
- 2016 - Bill 151 – An Act to enact the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 (‘RRCEA’) and the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016 (‘WTDA’) - receive Royal Assent. This new legislation - called the Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016 - replaces the Waste Diversion Act, 2002 (‘WDA’) with a new producer responsibility framework that makes producers individually responsible and accountable for their products and packaging at end of life.
Some concerns regarding the current system
- News Media Canada has expressed concern over the absence of effective cost containment, performance targets, economies of scale, or incentives to municipalities to achieve efficiencies in ways that do not prejudice industry;
- The fees per tonne formula that was established penalizes good recyclers; industry whose waste goes to landfill pays nothing toward the cost of the Blue Box.
News Media Canada Specific Factors
- Single stream collection: as more municipalities move to an integrated collection system, the value of ONP declines, and the cost of processing it rises
- Downward pressure from mills on fibre prices – Ontario ONP could be downgraded - even in two-stream collection systems
- SO has increased News Media Canada's share of the administrative cost of the system. SO argues that the newspaper industry’s original assessment was too low - more time and effort than originally anticipated is required to cull and track data and this drives up cost. At the same time, other industries have been assessed downwards – this is a reallocation.