Ontario Set to Overhaul Waste Reduction Legislation: Increased Responsibility for Producers


Co-authored by Katherine Ruta, Student.

Environment Minister Jim Bradley introduced a new Waste Reduction Act (the "Act") on June 6, 2013 as part of a new Waste Reduction Strategy. If the bill is passed the new legislation will replace the existing Waste Diversion Act, 2002. The legislation proposes two major changes from its predecessor. First, the proposed Act is specifically aimed at increasing the diversion rate of the industrial, commercial, and institutional (IC&I) sector. Second, it shifts the responsibility of managing the cost of recycling from the consumer to the producer.

The new legislation will address a number of priorities:

  1. Individual Producer Responsibility - Individual producers will be responsible for managing their product’s end-of-life by financing the cost, rather than passing it to the consumer at the point of sale. Producers will also be subject to waste diversion targets, standards, service standards, promotion and education requirements, and administrative penalties.
  2. Consumer Protection - The proposed legislation requires “all-in” pricing to ensure consumers are not surprised by added recycling charges or eco-fees at point of sale. The Act will also require the seller to display waste diversion costs in a transparent and accurate manner. Any false or misleading representations will constitute an offence under the Act.
  3. Strengthen Oversight - A new Waste Reduction Authority will be created with a broader set of powers to monitor performance and ensure producers meet their targets, assign penalties for non-compliance under the Act, and oversee and manage a registry of producers.
  4. Improve the Municipalities’ Role - The 50 percent funding cap will be lifted for municipalities. Producers will be required to reimburse municipalities for collection and handling costs of designated wastes. The new Authority has been granted powers to manage dispute resolution.
  5. Increase Waste Diversion - New material designations are identified including IC&I paper and packaging, carpet, bulky items, additional WEEE, and non-food organics; a new standard for end-of-life vehicles; development of a strategy for organics; and mechanism for disposal. The Authority will establish new standards through regulations.
  6. Focus on Tackling Large Producers of Waste - As a whole, the Waste Reduction Strategy is aimed at improving the recycling performance of the industrial, commercial, and institutional sector, beginning with printed paper and packaging.

These potential changes mean producers will have a new set of comprehensive guidelines to adhere to under the Act. Although the Minister acknowledged that it could take up to five years to transition to the new strategy, producers should be aware of the changes they need to make in order to manage their business in such a way as to be compliant with the proposed new legislation, and to avoid penalties.

The new Act will replace the Waste Diversion Act but continue current waste diversion programs through temporarily re-enacted provisions. Information about both the Waste Reduction Strategy and the Waste Reduction Act can be found on the Environmental Registry for the next 90 days. The proposed Act can be found here. The legislation will receive second reading in September.

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