FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ontario Still Landfills 10 million tonnes of Waste Every Year
Eco Fee debate misses the Point
TORONTO, June 2011 – On waste reduction and producer responsibility, Ontario has dropped from last place to first place until this year. Using policy tools like the Waste Diversion Act, the Ontario government is transitioning the financial responsibility from Ontario taxpayers to industry in order to increase and improve recycling, while reducing its costs over the long term. Ontario’s commitment to Producer Responsibility is a vital policy direction that assigns the cost of recycling to the manufacturer when their products are no longer useful to the consumer.
This is not a new cost, but a transition of costs from taxpayers to industry; a cost they have to decide whether to pass through to their consumers. This policy, unlike the one it replaces, fosters overall waste management cost reductions by providing industry with cost advantages when they improve the design of their products so that they can be recycled more easily, cheaply, and effectively. It also helps to provide a secure supply of local materials for the development of processing and manufacturing industries in Ontario. This is a policy that governments of all stripes said they were committed to entrenching in this province.
Recent media coverage on eco-fees is a distraction from the real issue, and it may indeed cause government to move backward into the dark ages of waste management. Over the long term, this could result in higher waste management costs downloaded onto taxpayers. Producer Responsibility law has become the policy of choice for more and more jurisdictions around the world: these jurisdictions encourage industry to invest much needed dollars into the recycling industry, which recovers valuable materials, reduces toxins in our land and waterways, and creates thousands of jobs. In fact, it is estimated that for every 1000 tonnes of waste that is recycled, 7 jobs are created in Ontario.
“Our organization is fearful that the negative attention being paid to eco-fees is going make government move backwards on their commitment to reducing waste, specifically producer responsibility,” says Jo-Anne St. Godard, Executive Director of the Recycling Council of Ontario. “What people are forgetting is that there is a cost to waste management no matter what; it has simply been hidden in our taxes for decades. Paying for them through our taxes means individual Ontario residents have no choice but to pick up the tab for industry.”
Providing industry with an impetus to support management of their products when they reach the end of their useful life takes the burden off communities that are saddled with the costs of waste. In 2010 alone, producer responsible programs contributed more than 250 million dollars into Ontario’s recycling systems.
“We all know that communities are cash strapped, so turning your back on having producers financially support more recycling in Ontario is a big mistake,” says St. Godard. “Ontarians should not be fooled: if they pay through their taxes, those fees will be hidden. If industry pays, we as consumers can decide whether we want to buy products from companies that are responsible to pay them. And frankly, I would rather have the choice.”
About the Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) – www.rco.on.ca
The Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) is a not-for-profit, membership-based organization committed to minimizing society's impact on the environment by eliminating waste. RCO's mission is to inform and educate all members of society about the avoidance of waste, efficient use of resources, and the benefits and/or consequences of these activities. Since its inception in 1978, RCO has actively assisted municipalities, corporations, other organizations and individuals in reducing waste.
For more information, please contact:
Jo-Anne St. Godard, Executive Director, Recycling Council of Ontario, (905) 586 5866