Ontario Introduces Provincial Strategy for Resource Recovery and Waste Reduction
The Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016, specifies the requirements used to promote a circular economy with the goal to reduce landfill waste and increase resource recovery of materials.
SAFEGUARDS | Electrical & Electronics NO. 105/18
In order to establish the foundation for and to promote a waste-free environment in Ontario, Canada, the Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016  was passed on June 1, 2016. This legislation will enact both the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act (2016) and the Waste Diversion Transition Act (2016). The Waste Diversion Transition Act will repeal the current Waste Diversion Act (2002), which promotes the process for reuse and/or recycling of electrical and electronic equipment.
The Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act (RRCEA) is one of the first circular economy piece of legislation passed in North America with the aim to promote: 1) resource recovery, and 2) reduce waste to the landfill. The intent of the RRCEA is to:
- to minimize the use of raw materials;
- to maximize the useful life of materials and other resources through resource recovery, and;
- to minimize waste generated at the end of life of products and packaging.
The legislation provides obligations and identifies responsibility for collection and management of products with regards to reuse, recovery or recycling. Through resource recovery, such as by the removal of useful materials or resources from electrical/electronic waste at end of useful life; and by waste reduction, which has the intent of minimizing the creation of waste at end of life through product design, and/or through the materials used during manufacturing.
The designation of materials and products will be through regulations made under the RRCEA, 2016. The first set of materials and products include, but are not limited to:
- Small appliances
- Electrical tools
- Fluorescent bulbs and tubes
- Clothing and other textiles
- Furniture and other bulky items
With the enactment of the Waste Diversion Transition Act (2016), the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change in the province of Ontario, has provided information to Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES), with regards to the end of the Waste Diversion Act (2002) programs. The OES is a not-for-profit organization led program currently in place to administer the recycling procedures on certain electronics in the province. This program and process for recycling waste electrical/electronic products will cease operation as of June 30, 2020. The Waste Diversion Transition Act (2016) will be enforced as of July 1, 2020.
The current OES program is funded by the Environmental Handling Fees (EHF) that are applied to the purchase of all covered new electronics in Ontario. These fees are used to offset the costs incurred at end-of-life of the OES program for disposal of certain electronic products. These fees are not considered a tax, or a refundable deposit, but are used to dispose of the materials contained in products, such as, TV and computer monitors, laptop/desktop computers, printers, home audio equipment, cell phones and landline phones.
As part of the Waste-Free Ontario Act, the Waste Diversion Transition Act (2016) will replace the OES program in 2020. Where the OES program does not place any waste or recovery obligations on to the producer or brand holder, the new Act will place the obligation for reuse, recovery and/or recycling on the responsible party for placing the product on the market in Ontario. This is similar to the WEEE Directive in the European Union.
The purposes of the Waste Diversion Transition Act are:
- to promote the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste;
- to provide for the operation of waste diversion programs; and
- to promote the orderly completion of current waste diversion programs and industry funding organizations in order to allow responsibility for waste to be governed under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 or otherwise.
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