Since its launch in February, the Solid Waste Master Plan page on Engage Ottawa has been a steadily growing source of information. If you haven’t stopped by recently, it’s worth taking another look. You’ll find anything you may want to know about project timelines, reports and technical data, as well as FAQs and backgrounders on various waste management related topics, trends, challenges and solutions.
One of the latest additions is an overview of the consultation process so far, including how we adapted to virtual engagement practices. You can also learn about the types of questions we asked, what we have heard at a high level and how we will be using the input we received as we continue to develop the Solid Waste Master Plan.
A second update pertains to the plan’s Stakeholder Sounding Board (SSB), composed of 19 member organizations. They represent a cross section of industry and society – from construction companies, landlord associations and waste management providers to government bodies, academic institutions, the business community and social and environmental groups. The SSB has been meeting virtually since May, providing feedback to the Waste Plan’s draft vision, guiding principles and goals. Sounding Board delegates have also shared their expertise to help develop key technical documents like the options evaluation tool.
Moving towards Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR)
The Province of Ontario is shifting to a circular economy. A key driver under the Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016, is restructuring its diversion policies. Five types of waste will transition to an individual producer responsibility (IPR) model: used tires, batteries and electronics, household hazardous waste, and blue/black bin recycling. The transition of the blue/black bin to IPR represents the largest change to the program. Draft regulations were released in October of this year.
What does ‘individual producer responsibility’ mean?
IPR means that producers will be responsible for the whole lifecycle of their products and packaging. They will also be fully accountable for diverting the material they produce away from landfill or incineration. As a result, producers will be 100 per cent physically and financially responsible for managing the waste generated by their packaging and paper products after consumers have finished using them.
So, producers will have to pick up waste? How is that going to work?
Yes, producers will be required to manage all recyclable material. They will need to decide if they want to get into the business of collecting and processing waste themselves, or else pay municipalities or private waste management companies to provide the service on their behalf. How they determine to meet this responsibility will be revealed in the early part of 2021.
When is the transition going to happen?
It depends on the product. Tires and batteries have already moved to IPR. Electronic waste and other hazardous items are to follow in 2021. The responsibility for the blue/black bin program will shift from Ontario municipalities to the producers between 2023 and 2025. In the draft regulations, Ottawa has been scheduled to transition in 2023.
Will Ottawa’s recycling programs change?
Most likely. Today, cities in Ontario all have different recycling programs. After the transition to IPR, the list of accepted materials will be consistent across the province. Ottawa is likely to see an expansion of acceptable items. We may also end up with one recycling bin instead of two, mixing glass metal and plastic with paper and cardboard.
Why is IPR a good thing?
It reduces costs for municipalities, and it benefits the environment. The hope is that producers will do everything they can to save resources, collection and disposal costs. When products and packaging materials are designed to minimize waste and to be recovered, reused, recycled and reintegrated back into production, Ontario will come much closer to being a circular economy.