It is good news to learn about your recent decision to reject a plan to incinerate your waste. As you know, burning waste produces emissions that are harmful to human health and the environment. Incinerating waste also destroys resources forever – resources that, when properly sorted, provide much needed local employment to recover materials for reuse, recycling or composting. It simply doesn’t make financial or environmental sense to destroy wasted resources.
The City of Ottawa was recently bamboozled by an incinerator company promising a quick fix to their waste woes. This ended up costing taxpayers a large sum of money, money which could otherwise have been used to develop sustainable programs to further reduce waste. The fact is, incineration companies are quick to sign up municipalities struggling to solve garbage problems.
We need all levels of government to act on responsible programs that reduce waste and reuse, recycle, and compost our resources in a sustainable and financially responsible manner.
Ontario’s Minister of Environment & Climate Change, Mr. Glen Murray has promised to make producers responsible for the products and packaging they produce. Provincial and federal regulations are quickly needed to require producers to eliminate waste at the source. Standards are needed to require safe products and packaging that can be easily reused, recycled, or composted. Municipalities simply cannot afford to continue to clean up after industry’s end-of-life products.
Consider the problem of disposable diapers. This is a multi-billion dollar industry that is being subsidized 100% by municipal taxpayers who finance disposal costs of its product. This industry must be required to collect and process this waste at its own expense. Disposable diapers have been a growing problem for decades. Now, not only infants, but all ages are wrapped in this chemically-laced plastic waste. We should have seen this coming.
An Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program is urgently needed for this waste!
Another EPR program that Ontario can quickly implement is Deposit-Returns. Deposit-Return systems can be effective for a variety of products. The benefits of Deposit-Returns include: higher diversion rates; better quality materials; increasing local employment opportunities; reducing litter and, of course, making producers (and those consuming their products) financially responsible for the full life cycle of the product, instead of externalizing those costs to all taxpayers, which is currently the case in Ontario. A Deposit-Return program for all beverage containers could be implemented by Ontario immediately, similar to almost every other province in Canada. A common Deposit-Return program across the country would benefit us all.
Solutions are not rocket science. Local governments must take a stand and band together to demand provincial and federal governments to make these important changes – to put in place EPR programs that require producers to accept full financial and physical responsibility for their products and packaging, and to develop strategies that will allow communities to quickly adopt aggressive waste reduction policies, and reuse, recycling, and composting programs.
Congratulations and thank you again for your decision to stop incineration in your community. We will all benefit from your decision.