Ontario Environment and Climate Change Minister Chris Ballard has issued his first policy statement under section 11 of the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016. The statement directs municipalities and a wide swath of the economy to take action to reduce the volume of organic waste.
Some of the actions called for in the policy statement are strong recommendations, but many others are mandatory.
The statement opens by advising that it be read in its entirety, and for good reason. Once a policy statement is issued under section 11, municipalities, condominium owners and effectively all business owners in the province are required to ensure that “things are done in a manner that is consistent” with it.
In the case of this first policy statement, that means that municipalities with curbside organics programs must maintain them, municipalities without curbside organics programs must make plans to put one in place or develop other options, that business owners should source-separate organics and arrange to have them properly managed, and that every private and public enterprise in Canada should take steps to reduce the amount of food that ends up in the waste stream.
“Municipalities that are large and densely populated, and multi-residential buildings and industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) sector establishments that generate large volumes of food and organic waste are required to collect food and organic waste and to meet waste reduction and resource recovery targets of 50 or 70%,” ministry spokesperson Gary Wheeler told EcoLog News via e-mail.
In a statement provided to EcoLog News, Lynn Dollin, president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), noted that municipalities and the AMO have been part of the province’s organics working group for more than a year, and that they generally support the principle of organics diversion.
“Although municipal governments are part of the solution, we should not be expected to pay for Green Bin and organic programs through our property tax base,” she continues. “While there are positive advances here, better public policy should not be achieved on the backs of municipalities.”
Wheeler says municipalities will be eligible to apply for funding under the Climate Change Action Plan.
The policy statement is part of a food and organic waste framework that includes a wide range of actions the government intends to take to support waste reduction and diversion efforts and prevent food waste. The government may also amend its 3R Regulations (O. Regs. 102/94, 103/94 and 104/94) to include food and organic waste and may eventually impose a ban on organic waste from landfill, though not after very extensive consultation and preparation.