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Waste worries: NGOs call for tough producer responsibility regulations in Ontario

by Mark Sabourin
EcoLog, 8/28/2020 1:30:00 PM

Fifty-two environmental and civil society groups are calling on Ontario’s provincial government to adopt a regulation under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 that ensures products and services are fundamentally redesigned to prevent waste, and that companies are financially and operationally responsible for their products’ end-of-life management.

The public call comes as Ontario begins drafting regulations meant to transition the province to full producer responsibility for waste, a process that will take until 2025. But word from the drafting table is that the focus will be on residential waste only, ignoring the industrial, commercial and institutional waste that accounts for 60% of Ontario’s waste volume.

“The best and most important opportunity to improve recycling of packaging and plastics is missed with these proposed regulations,” said Jo-Anne St. Godard, executive director of Recycling Council of Ontario, in a statement.

Others complain that proposed diversion targets are weak, and that regulations may exclude more remote regions of Ontario, or difficult-to-manage locations like parks or schools. The 52 signatories describe the transition as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enable a low-carbon, toxic-free circular economy in Canada’s largest, most populous province.”

The signatories say the regulation must ensure strong environmental outcomes by excluding energy recovery from the definition of recycling, mandating high, enforceable diversion targets that become more stringent over time, and banning packaging that is toxic to the environment or to human health.

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