Examining Ontario's Journey towards a Waste-Free Future
In late 2016, Ontario embarked on a journey towards achieving sustainable waste management with the introduction of the Waste Free Ontario Act. This legislation, comprising the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act and the Waste Diversion Transition Act, represents a significant step forward in addressing the critical issue of waste generation and management. Its primary objectives revolve around promoting resource recovery and embracing the principles of a circular economy. Currently, the legislation focuses on producers and packaging, emphasizing their responsibility for managing packaging at its end-of-life stage. While the act’s immediate focus lies within the realm of consumer goods, there are imminent plans to broaden its scope to encompass other sectors.
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The provincial government has also developed a strategy document that outlines a roadmap for achieving the goals set forth in the legislation. The strategy document outlines several goals. By the year 2024, the province aims to develop additional policy statements for the waste-free Ontario act and actively solicit input from stakeholders. This will be followed by a review of the strategy and the designation of additional materials under the producer responsibility regulations in 2025. In 2027, the provincial government is planning to introduce a revised waste-free Ontario strategy.
Expanding resource recovery across all sectors remains a crucial objective of this legislation. The IC&I (Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional) sectors, governed by Ontario Regulations 102/94 (Waste Audits and Waste Reduction Work Plans), 103/94 (Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Source Separation Programs), and 104/94 (Packaging Audits and Packaging Reduction Work Plans) under the Environmental Protection Act, play a pivotal role in achieving waste diversion targets. These regulations, commonly known as Ontario’s 3Rs Regulations, serve as the fundamental policy framework for waste generator responsibility.
Recognizing the immense potential for greater diversion within the IC&I sectors, the province will convene a stakeholder working group to gather valuable insights and recommendations for amending the 3Rs Regulations, thereby driving effective diversion strategies. The province’s commitment to fostering positive change in waste management practices is evident, and we eagerly anticipate the outcomes of these collaborative efforts.
What's Next for Ontario
Waste diversion plays a crucial role in Ontario’s environmental strategy by extending landfill lifespan, promoting sustainability, and fostering innovation and job growth in the emerging environmental sectors. By diverting waste from landfills and adopting more sustainable waste management practices, Ontario aims to minimize environmental impacts and maximize resource utilization
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