Simply disposing of waste (either dumping it in a hole or burning it) should be our absolute last option for dealing with leftover materials. For example, the Green Dot system is how the vast majority of European companies comply with the European Union Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, which makes companies 100% responsible for the costs of disposing or recycling the packaging they produce. The result is that European companies have taken the need to reduce waste seriously because the cost of dealing with waste now directly affects their bottom line.  Systems like Green Dot, where companies prepay waste handling fees for every product they produce based on a combination of weight and types of materials used, are based on the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). In Canada, our provincial and federal environment ministers agreed in 2009 that this approach should be adopted here.

In 2013, the Ontario government took a first step toward doing so by introducing a new Waste Diversion Act to the legislature. The bill actually has support from both affected industries and environmental organizations. But the Waste Diversion Act has become a victim of political jockeying in the Ontario legislature and progress toward refinement and passage has been painfully slow. Getting this act in shape and passed into law should be a focus for all parties when the Legislature returns in February.

Lisa James.

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