Environment Minister Must Address Recycling Market Upheaval

April 20, 2012

QUEEN’S PARK — Environment Minister Jim Bradley has been missing in action as more hazardous waste haulers and processors warn they may stop collecting waste from municipalities altogether, PC Environment Critic and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today.

Companies that transport and recycle hazardous wastes, like paint and batteries, have been calling on the minister for months to address their concerns about Stewardship Ontario’s new “incentive-pricing” program, which was introduced on January 1, 2012.

Under this system, hauling and recycling companies are paid a fixed fee for their work – determined not by the open market, but by a bureaucratic process.

“In December last year, Stewardship Ontario informed municipalities it would be removing their ability to negotiate with independent businesses in a competitive bidding process,” Harris said. “The organization told them it would, instead, introduce a fixed-fee pricing model despite concerns among municipalities and businesses that the new system would severely limit competition and unleash havoc in the marketplace.”

Early this year, the province’s largest paint recycler, Hotz Environmental, announced it would no longer haul and process municipal paint waste, saying the new system would cause substantial financial losses for the company. Only then did Minister Bradley announce he’d review the situation.

“The review the Ministry of Environment announced in February falls far short of addressing the problems we’re facing right now with hazardous waste recycling,” Harris said. “There’s no shortage of solutions, but the minister continues to dither, studying the same problems over and over again.”

Now, even more companies are threatening to pull out. Yesterday the Ontario Waste Management Association, which represents 300 businesses, municipalities and individuals, warned that many of the hauling and processing companies it represents are prepared to stop servicing the market.

“This government has had plenty of time to address the concerns of municipalities and service providers. Now, key environmental recyclers have stopped hauling and processing hazardous waste for municipalities,” Harris said. “The time for review has long passed. We need a solution today.”