On Oct. 1, second reading of Bill 91 was continued in legislature, where Michael Harris resumed his remarks and the PC Party’s opposition to components of the proposed Waste Reduction Act. Among the highlights:
- In 2012 the Orange Drop program cost Ontarians nearly $60 million, the Used Tires Program cost about $70 million, and the E-waste program cost roughly $85 million.
- The Liberals have received more than $100 million in hidden taxes embedded into eco taxes. The way it works is, the Liberals include a 13% HST charge into an eco tax, which they then again tax with HST. In other words, the Liberals have been forcing Ontarians to pay a tax on a tax that includes a hidden tax.
- I had hoped that the Liberals would have moved to solve this problem, but instead they have tabled Bill 91, which does nothing at all to address double HST taxation.
- In fact, we produce 12.5 million tonnes of waste a year. We ship more than four million tonnes to the United States, and we put nearly six million tonnes of that waste in the ground right here in Ontario. Not only is this unsustainable for our environment, but it also is an enormous loss of economic opportunity to create and retain jobs here in Ontario.
- Consider that for every thousand tonnes of waste recycled, roughly seven new jobs are created. Do you know how many jobs are created landfilling that much waste? Less than one.
- Clearly, we need bold reform… We would start our reforms by scrapping each and every one of the Liberals’ eco tax programs. That means the Orange Drop, E-waste and used tire programs would be all gone.
- Under our plan, that means the Ministry of the Environment would set measurable and achievable recycling targets for manufacturers and importers of electronics, tires and household hazardous materials.
- The ministry would then set environmental standards to ensure that these materials are actually recycled and are not sent overseas in a shipping container or dumped in a landfill.
- The ministry would then monitor outcomes to ensure that targets are being met. If anyone breaks any of these standards set by the government, it would then be the responsibility of the environment ministry to enforce the rules.
- Under this framework, manufacturers and importers, which I refer to as producers, would no longer be hampered by Liberal regulations mandating that they must join and pay fees to Stewardship Ontario, Ontario Electronic Stewardship or Ontario Tire Stewardship.
- They would be free to determine how to achieve recycling targets either on their own or through a collaborative effort. Their operations would not be governed under prescriptive Liberal regulations; they would be governed under the same rules that the rest of the free market must adhere to: the Canadian Competition Act.
- Our plan would also open up the marketplace for recycling companies by allowing producers to work with any waste hauler or processor that meets Ontario’s environmental standards.
- One area we could tackle first is, in fact, the construction and demolition area. Scrap metals like aluminum, copper and steel are valuable materials that should be recovered and recycled into new products. Retrieving these materials creates jobs in collection, hauling, processing and manufacturing.
- That’s why we have called on the government to eliminate Waste Diversion Ontario and bring back all regulatory authority into the Ministry of the Environment, where it truly belongs.
- Right now, under the Waste Diversion Act, municipalities and producers split the cost of the blue box program 50-50. After tabling Bill 91, the Liberals claimed that they would like to transition the blue box into individual producer responsibility, but again, the talking point doesn’t match the actual content of their bill. If producers were truly moving to IPR (Individual Producer Responsbilty), they would not only assume all of the costs, they would also get to manage the materials.
- The (Waste Reduction) Authority has the power “to establish a compensation formula for every designated waste” that a municipality has registered for. That means if a municipality wants to be compensated for blue box materials or any other material, for that matter, the authority can force a funding formula on both producers and municipalities.
- This specific provision is dealt with in section 44(5), which states if there is no financial agreement between producers and municipalities, “the amount shall be determined in accordance with the compensation formula established by the authority....” This is really the most disappointing feature of this poorly drafted bill. It focuses more on perpetrating a fight between municipalities and businesses over money than setting priorities and reducing the amount of waste that’s going into our landfills.
- In just six years, costs for the blue box program have jumped to $315 million a year, up from $252 million annually. We all know we can’t sustain this forever, so we need to find some common ground between producers and municipalities. But to get there, we’ll have to give and take a little.
- That starts with respecting the role of municipalities in providing collection services to their residents, and it also means respecting the view of producers who are being asked to carry the full financial burden. It’s only fair that if they are paying the full cost, they should own the materials from that transaction. So if any type of reform moves forward, I think it’s quite clear that we will need to revisit regulation 101.
- Rather than allowing businesses to work together in partnership, like they do everywhere else in the marketplace, the Liberals have created a convoluted registration process for intermediaries. An intermediary, under section 40 of the bill, is essentially an industry funding organization, or IFO, under the Waste Diversion Act. Similar to IFOs, an intermediary would be responsible for adhering to the regulations established under the proposed act.
- I know the environment minister enjoys telling people that his bill is based on individual producer responsibility, but the facts are, he has created a system that does not hold the individual producer responsible. It holds collectives responsible.
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