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Environment, Ontario Politics

GPO answers AMO’s call for a comprehensive waste strategy

Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner

On June 30th, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario issued a press release that challenged all political parties in Ontario “to demonstrate how they will support waste diversion strategies that ensure that industry cleans up after itself, property taxpayers aren’t left holding the tab for waste management costs, and fewer toxins are released into our environment.”

The Green Party of Ontario responded yesterday with a comprehensive outline as to how they would begin to tackle the problem of waste in Ontario if elected. It includes a commitment to the principle of extended producer responsibility, which would see those manufacturers who generate waste held more accountable for properly disposing of the article or its packaging at the end of its use.

Here is the response from the GPO:

Waste is an issue that is far too important for our economy, our communities, and our health to neglect. We cannot continue asking property tax payers to shoulder the financial burden for waste they did not create and that could be avoided with proper product and packaging design. This is why the Green Party believes it is time for Ontario to develop a comprehensive zero waste strategy.

The Green Party’s concern is that Ontario does not have an adequate policy framework to tackle these challenges.

In particular, I would like to highlight five areas of concern.

1. The Waste Diversion Act does not prioritize reduce and reuse over recycle.

2. Flawed cost structures make landfill less expensive than recycling.

3. Waste Diversion programs fail to cover all costs.

4. There are little or no financial incentives to reduce waste or not produce it in the first place

5. There is inadequate coverage of materials and sectors under Waste Diversion Act

The Green Party of Ontario believes that action must revolve around ways to reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost, in that order.

In 2008 the consultation report; Towards A Zero Waste Future: Review of Ontario’s Waste Diversion Act embraced the Green Party’s long time call for full Extended Producer Responsibility. It also promoted the design of products and processes to reduce waste before it is produced. Such legislation would incentivize businesses and entrepreneurs to build more sustainable products by factoring in the full costs of the products throughout their life cycle. The goal would be to have products built in an environmentally and economically sustainable way.

Green MPPs will advocate for full extension of Extended Producer Responsibility to the Blue Box Program, to packaging and production materials and across a full range of materials and sectors.

The implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility cannot be left to industry alone. We believe that it is essential for the province to partner with municipalities, industry and other stakeholders to deliver on a government-lead Extended Producer Responsibility program that puts the public’s interest first.

To move forward with Extended Producer Responsibility, we must engage the public in an open and transparent discussion about the true costs of waste management. The province must partner with municipalities to educate citizens that Extended Producer Responsibility shifts the costs of waste management off of property tax payers and places it squarely on the shoulders of those who generate waste in the first place.

Municipalities have been anxiously awaiting EPR and it’s time that the Province delivers a stable policy framework. This framework is needed so that our municipalities and businesses can properly plan and make long term investments in a stable policy environment. These advancements will make the goal of a zero-waste future is possible.

The Green Party believes it’s time for a new Waste Diversion Act. A Waste Diversion Act that outlines a vision for moving to a zero waste future with sensible, long term solutions to get us there.

For our full platform please visit www.itstimeforgreen.ca.

And while I have concerns and questions over the likelihood of ever achieving ‘zero waste,’ it is a worthy objective to work towards, nonetheless.

I am sure AMO looks forward to seeing equally comprehensive responses from the remaining political parties.

You’re up, ONDP!

About awreeves

Editor-in-chief at Alternatives Journal. Author of 'Overrun: Dispatches from the Asian carp Crisis'.


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