Ontario is proposing to amend its Food and Organic Waste Policy Statement in an effort to fill green bins and standardize their contents province-wide. The move is partly a response to the growing volume of compostable products coming to market, though at least one organization is warning that not all claims of compostability are equal.
The current Policy Statement already sets 2023 or 2025 mandatory food and organic waste reduction targets for municipalities, multi-unit residential buildings, industrial and commercial facilities, educational institutions and hospitals. The proposed amendments will further describe how those targets must be met. Specifically, municipalities must make efforts to divert food waste, inedible parts of plants and animals resulting from food preparation and pet food waste.
Other categories of waste that rank high on the government’s proposed amended list include soiled paper and food packaging, coffee filters, tea bags, compostable coffee pods and compostable bags, diapers and pet waste.
The proposed amendments will also make clear that the 2023 or 2025 reduction targets must continue to be met after they are first reached.
The announcement by Environment, Conservation and Parks Minister Jeff Yurek took place at the Club Coffee plant in Etobicoke, and the inclusion of compostable coffee pods in the proposed amended list left a bitter taste in the mouth of Tim Gray, executive director of Environmental Defence.
Most municipal programs and systems are not equipped to handle them, he said in a release. “Forcing municipalities to accept these pods is a taxpayer subsidy to industry,” said Gray.
Club Coffee pods do meet international standards for compostability, according to the company, and problems most often relate to confusion and a facility’s refusal to accept the pods.
The proposed amendments acknowledge that the current food and organics management infrastructure was built primarily to recover nutrients, and that investment will be needed in new processes and technology to handle a wider range of products, including compostable packaging.
Comments on the proposed amendments will be accepted until November 14, 2020.