Harris calls for major reform of hazardous, electronic recycling policiesNovember 27, 2012
KITCHENER — The Liberal government must take immediate steps to divert more hazardous materials and electronics from disposal by adopting the PC Party’s proposal to inject competition into the recycling marketplace and improve government oversight, PC Environment Critic and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today at Monarch Oil in Kitchener.
“For far too long, the government’s command-and-control approach to waste diversion has stifled innovation and efficiency in the recycling market,” Harris said. “Manufacturers and importers understand they have a responsibility to divert hazardous and electronic waste from our landfills, but they want the ability to determine how to recycle that waste in a competitive marketplace.”
After nearly a decade of Liberal rule, the Ontario government still lacks the ability to set clear, enforceable recycling targets even as the province’s waste diversion rate remains at a dismal 23%, lagging behind B.C., Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
To make Ontario a leader once again, Harris announced the PC Party’s plan last week to reform the province’s policies for recycling hazardous and electronic waste. Under this proposal, the government would set measurable and achievable waste diversion targets, establish environmental standards and monitor outcomes. Producers and importers would then be free to determine how to achieve those targets either on their own or through a collaborative effort, rather than having to be a part of industry-funding organizations (IFOs) that currently manage Ontario’s recycling programs as government-mandated monopolies.
“These reforms would stimulate economic growth, drive down recycling costs for manufactures and importers and would, ultimately, lead to greater waste diversion,” Harris said.
Under the current system, the Ministry of the Environment and its toothless oversight body, Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO), idly stood by as Stewardship Ontario and Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES) racked up multi-million-dollar deficits last year, bankrupting the Liberals’ Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste (MHSW) and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) programs.
To cover Stewardship Ontario’s debt, the Environment Minister decided to force businesses, like Monarch Oil, to foot the bill through a deficit-recovery fee. OES, however, was left to develop its own cost-recovery model. Nearly a year later, OES has refused to submit a credible plan to the Ministry and will, instead, raise eco-fees on electronics next year to pay for its financial mismanagement, all with the approval of WDO.
“I urge the Environment Minister to implement the PC plan to transform the Liberals’ failed MHSW and WEEE programs from what they are today to producer responsibility initiatives that deliver solid environmental performance and economic efficiency,” Harris said.