Recycling

Background:

The waste management sector is no longer simply about disposal, instead it is a sophisticated sector continually investing in innovation and new technology in order to capture the value of the resources within our waste stream.

A recent Ontario study indicates for that every 1,000 tonnes of recycled generates 7.3 full-time equivalent jobs; $711,000 in GDP; and $360,000 in wages. It also concluded that jobs in recycling pay above the provincial average and economic benefits are four times greater than the net cost to recycle.

These economic benefits are supported by many other reports, which underline the positive impacts of recycling including creating jobs with higher than average incomes; boosting public revenues; and adding value to the overall economy.1

Although a major generator of waste, Ontario is a leader in residential sector recycling with successful and widely supported Blue Box.

Today, more than 95% of Ontarians have access to curbside recycling, and the internationally recognized Blue Box Program has achieved a recycling performance of 67.6%.2

The Issues:

Wasted Opportunities
Little has been done to either capitalize on developing end markets for recycling materials or to understand the benefits of increased diversion for non-designated materials. Ontario lacks an overarching provincial strategy, defining both long- and short-term objectives, for recycling in the province.

Disposal / Diversion Gap
Although waste diversion generates substantial economic benefits, disposal (particularly in Michigan)3 predominantly remains the least cost option for managing waste. Recycling activities are hindered in many cases as a result of a wide differential between the costs of disposal and recycling.

The only way to drive greater diversion in Ontario, especially in the IC&I sector, is to find a way to change the economics. This often involves the need for some form of government intervention.

Standards
The lack of recycling standards applied and enforced uniformly across the province is a growing concern for the waste management sector. Without a common set of environmental standards for processors those who have invested in operating to high environmental standards – whether operating as service providers to EPR programs or generally operating in the waste diversion

Competition
The current framework requires the creation of collective recycling agencies. These agencies are conferred market power as monopoly buyers of environmental services. The effects of noncompetition between producers and their consumers have dramatic effects on the waste diversion service marketplace. Functioning recycling markets have been disrupted; consumers have been burdened by eco-fees in some cases unfairly; recycling targets have not been met; and program efficiencies questioned.

OWMA Recommendations:
  1. Harness the economic value of waste as a resource by developing a long-term economic strategy based on sound data and utilizing economic instruments such as disposal bans and Extended Producer Responsibility.
  2. Ensure any economic instrument employed by the government to drive recycling (including EPR programs) fosters fair, open and competitive markets for all parties including service providers and producers; and requires direct accountability to individual parties for achieving environmental outcomes.
  3. Clarify the roles and responsibilities of the parties involved in waste diversion through legislative or regulatory change. Government should set and enforce recycling targets; establish rigorous province-wide environmental standards; and set penalties.
  4. Revise procurement policies to strategically support products made in whole or in part from recycled materials and support the proper management of materials at the end of life. 

 

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Ontario Waste Management Association
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Brampton, Ontario
L6T 5P8

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