In November 2017 the Government of Ontario released a proposed framework that sets a vision for “a circular economy that moves towards zero food and organic waste and zero greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector” and considered a number of guiding principles:
- Enhancing existing partnerships with stakeholders and building new relationships
- Building on progress made in Ontario and learning from other leading jurisdictions
- Collaborating across all levels of government to avoid duplication
- Supporting an outcome-based approach
- Using evidence to guide decision making
- Using regulatory and non-regulatory tools
- Creating conditions that support sustainable end-markets
- Increasing the use of innovative technologies
- Enabling efficient and effective recovery systems
- Recognizing the administrative impacts and costs to recover resources from organic materials
The framework was posted to the Environment Bill of Rights and invited feedback from interested stakeholders.
Highlights of RCO's response
- Food and food waste is reported to contribute 30 per cent of materials that end up in disposal and is a significant emitter of greenhouse gas emissions.The Government of Ontario is taking action on an important waste stream at an opportune time.
- By incorporating waste reduction, with focus on food and food waste, into education curriculums is an effective and important consideration that will have long-lasting benefits.
- A reminder of opportunities to leverage existing promotional and educational programs, including the Waste-Free Lunch Challenge, Waste Reduction Week in Canada, and 3RCertified.
- The MOECC is correct in wanting to improve data tracking and collection, and in particular the IC&I sector, to ensure policy is based on fact. To do so priority must be placed on reviewing, improving, and enforcing 3Rs Regulations.
- 3Rs Regulations review should emphasize source separation and proof of final disposition for data reporting tools to increase understanding, and pinpoint the stage in the supply chain where greater oversight support and resources may be needed.
- Data reporting tools must also help to standardize performance reporting, including definitions of desired management approaches, methodologies for reporting and calculating performance, and verification protocols.
- RCO was pleased to see procurement identified as an action item in the Strategy for Building a Waste-Free Ontario, and is encouraged to see it included in Food and Organic Waste Framework. However, how procurement can be applied as it relates to food and organic waste can be significantly expanded.
- A procurement policy as part of the Food and Organic Waste Framework should require all food services to support the proper management of food waste in accordance with the framework and overall government waste policy. This can be effectively facilitated through the procurement provision in the Policy Statement in the framework.
- RCO fully supports the introduction of targets that can serve a dual purpose of the managing implementation process and measuring success. However, we feel that the target timeframe as currently proposed can be accelerated.
- To maintain a level playing field, producers that successfully integrate third-party certified compostable packaging into municipal Green Bin Programs (meaning they are not a contaminate in the system) should receive diversion credits as they do for non-compostable packaging in the Blue Box Program.
RCO continues to take an active role in food and organic waste reduction, and is pleased to see the Government of Ontario prioritize a significant waste stream with a collaborative approach.