AG’s report confirms Liberals’ failure on waste diversion

December 17, 2012

QUEEN’S PARK — The Auditor General’s 2012 report confirms the Liberal government has failed to effectively divert recyclable waste away from landfills, as Ontario continues to lag behind other provinces with a waste diversion rate below 25%, PC Environment Critic and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today.

The Liberals have fallen far short of the goal they set in 2004 to achieve a waste diversion rate of 60% by 2008. According to Statistics Canada, Ontario remains stalled at 22.6%.

“It’s not enough to set a lofty goal and then just hope for the best. Keeping recyclable waste out of landfills requires bold leadership and the acknowledgement that the current system isn’t working,” Harris said.

Last month, Harris unveiled a major proposal to overhaul Ontario’s recycling programs for hazardous materials and electronics. Currently, the Ministry of the Environment and Waste Diversion Ontario, an arm’s length agency, work together to develop, implement and oversee mandatory waste diversion programs.

“It shouldn’t be the role of government to prescriptively design and manage recycling programs,” Harris said. “The federal government sets standards for vehicle safety, but it doesn’t design and install your airbags. So why is it any different for recycling? It’s time for the government to return to its role as a regulator and allow the private sector to find the best, most efficient, most cost-effective way to manage recycling in Ontario.”

At a recent roundtable event held by the Environment Commissioner of Ontario, participants supported the basis of the PC plan. It was agreed that the government should set waste diversion targets, establish environmental standards and monitor outcomes. Producers and importers should then be free to determine how to achieve those targets either individually or through a collaborative effort.

“The Commissioner’s roundtable validated the PC plan,” Harris said. “We all know that Ontario businesses posses the ingenuity to increase Ontario’s waste diversion rate. All they need, though, is the ability to choose the best way to recycle waste – free of government interference.”