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Don’t delay on recycling

In Waste
Jun 14th, 2010

The Toronto Star June 8 2010
Disposal of what we no longer want or need — our garbage — tends to follow the path of least resistance: cost. Greener alternatives would never see the light of day if not for government regulations that push people beyond the cheapest, dirtiest options.
So it’s disappointing that Environment Minister John Gerretsen failed to meet a commitment for new legislation on recycling measures before the Legislature ended its spring session last week.
His officials say they wanted to get the legislation right and simply ran out of time. But Ontario keeps falling further behind its own recycling timelines. The province is still nowhere near meeting its 2008 goal of diverting 60 per cent of waste from landfill. Is this a sign that the government is losing momentum?
The Liberals have already launched important recycling programs for used tires, electronics and household hazardous products. The proposed new waste diversion strategy would be a major improvement over the existing regulatory framework, belatedly tackling Ontario’s recycling laggards: businesses.
This is not the time to let up. Through the blue box and municipally run organics programs, residents divert some 42 per cent of residential waste. Ontario’s industries and businesses, however, divert just 12 per cent, dragging the overall provincial average down to 23 per cent.
The proposed new act would apportion more of the recycling costs to producers, where they belong. This extended producer responsibility model has been used in Europe to prod companies to design their products so they can be reused or recycled more easily.
Those are the sorts of improvements we need here — and quickly. Most of our landfills are nearing capacity. Passing this legislation should be a priority for MPPs in the coming fall session, rather than an afterthought that falls off the agenda at the last minute

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