Increase waste diversion to create jobs, protect environment: Harris

April 24, 2013

QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario needs to divert more waste from landfills in order to protect our environment and create good-paying jobs in the recycling sector, PC Environment Critic and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today.

“But to do this, we must develop a concrete plan to deal with the province’s largest source of waste: the industrial, commercial and institutional sector (IC&I),” Harris said. “That’s why the PC Party would enforce waste diversion targets in this sector. We understand that recycling valuable materials, like plastics, glass and metals, means less pollution and more economic activity in Ontario’s recycling marketplace.”

Since the Liberals assumed power in 2002, the waste diversion rate for the IC&I sector has steadily declined from 19% to just 12%. The Auditor General said this dismal trend is the result of the Liberals’ failure to enforce the province’s 3R Regulations under the Environmental Protection Act.

“The Liberals have failed to monitor the organizations that are required to have recycling plans in place under these regulations. In fact, the Auditor General found last year that the Liberal government doesn’t even fully know which organizations the regulations apply to,” Harris said. “The Liberals’ mismanagement in this sector represents a major loss of economic potential. Just think that for every job created to landfill waste, seven more jobs could have been created in the recycling sector to divert that waste into more productive uses.”

In 2004, the Liberals set a goal to increase the province’s waste diversion rate from 22% to 60% by 2008. But they neglected to develop a plan for the IC&I sector, which produces 60% of the province’s waste every year. “From the start, the Liberals’ goal was mathematically impossible, so it’s really no wonder why nearly 10 years later, the province’s overall waste diversion rate remains stalled at 22%,” Harris said.

To change the channel on this failure, the Liberal government took the Waste Diversion Act (which was passed by the PCs to develop a more stable funding formula for the Blue Box program) and used it to create the province’s first-ever eco-taxes for household hazardous materials, as well as two unaccountable, government-backed monopolies tasked with running the Liberals’ eco-tax schemes for electronics and tires.

Together, these three eco-tax programs only account for roughly 3% of the waste produced in Ontario each year, but they represent a huge money-making enterprise for the Liberal government. For years, the Liberals have been embedding millions of dollars in hidden HST charges into eco-taxes, which they then tax again with HST. “It’s obvious why the Liberals remain fixated on a fraction of the waste stream: They’re making hundreds of millions of dollars forcing Ontarians to pay a tax on a tax that includes a hidden tax,” Harris said.