OWMA response to FCPC position on Ontario's Waste Reduction Act

As was stated in a cover letter today from Peter Hargreave, Director, Policy & Strategy for the Ontario Waste Management Association (OWMA) — of which I am Chief Executive Officer — it has been brought to our attention that there are many incorrect claims being made about the potential impact of Ontario’s proposed Waste Reduction Act. We have begun to hear those comments being echoed in the Legislature.

Please find below a letter sent today debunking some of the incorrect claims being made by certain organizations. We understand there is an organized attempt to undermine the progress of the Waste Reduction Act.

As you will see in the letter, the statements being made are absolutely inaccurate and also lack credibility in their mischaracterization of the legislation. The OWMA is concerned that the type misinformation will  further impede progress on the legislation and damage the reputation and integrity of our sector. As a result, we felt the need to address them.

The Waste Reduction Act offers an opportunity for stakeholders to work together in the interests of all Ontarians to correct the flaws of the our current waste diversion framework and to re-establish the province as an economic leader in resource management. We hope all MPPs will constructively work to this end.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact Rob Cook or Peter Hargreave at 905-791-9500.

Here’s the letter:

November 13, 2013

Nancy Croitoru, President & CEO
Food & Consumer Products of Canada
100 Sheppard Ave E,
Toronto, ON M2N 6N5

Dear Ms. Croitoru,

RE: Open Letter to FCPC Regarding Bill 91, the Waste Reduction Act

It is with disappointment that we write to you regarding comments from your organization and members about Ontario’s proposed Bill 91, the Waste Reduction Act. The proposed Waste Reduction Act offers an opportunity for stakeholders to work together in the interests of all Ontarians to correct the current flaws and to re-establish the province as an economic leader in resource management. The current waste diversion framework is hurting consumers, jobs, investment, and our environment. Ontario needs to value our waste as a source of raw materials that can be rerouted into Ontario’s economy after proper processing.

Unfortunately, rather than seeking solutions it appears FCPC is taking another route to avoid having producers take financial responsibility for recycling by creating an economic argument to discredit the need for greater waste reduction. FCPC and its members have advanced the argument that the Waste Reduction Act could lead Ontario businesses to face an additional $300-$500 million of annual costs and suggest this could be the breaking point for many businesses costing manufacturing jobs.

These comments are not only factually incorrect but also lack credibility in their mischaracterization of the legislation. They speak more to an organization seeking to undermine legislation in support of a narrow self-interest than one seeking good public policy.

Contrary to FCPC’s assertions, the legislation in and of itself would have minimal financial impact on business. The legislation is simply “enabling” and further regulations would need to be promulgated for any change to have effect.  Each of these regulations would require consultation and a regulatory impact assessment.

It is at this point that the real impact if any of the proposed changes would be quantified and subject to consultation. All stakeholders would have an opportunity at this point to provide input.

FCPC’s estimated costs are based on unsound data and contain critical errors in calculation that undermine the premise for FCPC’s position. If regulations making producers 100% responsible for residential and industrial, commercial & institutional (IC&I) printed paper and packaging were approved, the cost would be nowhere near the FCPC calculation of $300-500 million. The first error is that FCPC calculations are based on 7.5 million tonnes of IC&I packaging generated. 7.5 million tonnes is actually the total amount of IC&I waste generated which includes all materials like organics and construction and demolition waste. As a result, the number used by FCPC is more than double that of the actual annual generation of IC&I packaging.

In addition, the calculation FCPC uses appears to be based on the premise that Ontario businesses currently do not divert any IC&I paper & packaging. This is clearly incorrect based on Statistics Canada’s Waste Management Industry Survey  and FCPC’s own report ‘Making an Impact: Environmental Sustainability Initiatives in Canada’s Food, Beverage and Consumer Products Industry. Many printed paper and packaging products like aluminum, boxboard and plastic film are regularly recycled in the IC&I sector. As a result, FCPC’s cost estimates can be further reduced as businesses are already paying for the costs of diverting these materials. They are not ‘new’ costs.

Finally, the cost per tonne to recycle IC&I paper & packaging ($95 per tonne) on which FCPC has based their entire calculation is far too high. The number is referenced as part of a 2010 Ministry of Environment presentation that is an estimated cost for all IC&I waste and is not specific to printed paper and packaging. Our members actually recycle IC&I printed paper and packaging and have confirmed the real costs are substantially lower.

As a result of all of these errors, it is clear the costs to business numbers that FCPC and its members are presenting are greatly overstated.

It is important to remember that regardless of the cost, Ontario manufacturers would not be impacted differently than other manufacturers located elsewhere and selling products into Ontario. Stewardship obligations under the legislation and regulations would apply to both equally.

The idea that a bottling company in Barrie for instance, would somehow be put at a disadvantage is disingenuous. If cost was an issue for Ontario manufacturers, FCPC members would not be seeking to voluntarily expand the cost of their recycling program by three-fold through a proposed new beverage container recycling program.

The Waste Reduction Act is similar to what other jurisdictions around the world are doing to promote economic growth, create well-paid jobs and meet environmental objectives. Dozens of studies around the world and throughout North America illustrate the economic development opportunities associated with stewardship programs and greater waste diversion.

We hope you will rethink your position, correct the erroneous statements you have made about the Waste Reduction Act and support the well-established and responsible argument that greater waste diversion and a healthy manufacturing sector are mutually supportive.

Good public policy should be based on sound data so that objective assessments of the costs of various strategies can be weighed and informed decisions made.  Our submission on the Waste Reduction Act emphasized this:

The OWMA continues to advocate that before designating new materials the government should understand the marketplace. This includes whether functioning markets already exist; what other regulations may already apply; what competing interests exist; and how EPR policy will help to achieve objectives. This information is necessary in order to set appropriate outcomes and standards, and to ensure proper oversight and enforcement. For some materials, EPR/IPR may not be the best policy mechanism to achieve environmental objectives.

The government has based the framework of the Waste Reduction Act on sound data and over five years of consultation.

We believe strongly that our organizations have much in common in our objectives to create a sustainable framework for waste diversion in the province and hope we can work more closely together in the future to avoid unfortunate situations like this. Please contact us directly if you would like to discuss this issue in further detail.

Yours Truly,

Robert Cook, Chief Executive Officer

Ontario Waste Management Association


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  • Very good to see OWMA stand up on this issue – and I hope it will take on others in the cabal of dis-information. Where else is this open letter being published? The points it makes are Ontario-specific, but they have resonance in many parts of the country.