The Future of Recycling: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Plastics have played a large part in Torontonians' everyday lives since the 1950s. Since then, plastic production has increased more than any other manufactured material. Based on a study conducted by the Waste Reduction Week in Canada program, it's estimated that on average, less than 11% of plastics are properly recycled in Canada. As plastic waste accumulates in our environment, it threatens the health of our ecosystems.

I've long advocated for a strategy to shift responsibility for recycling to plastic producers. In 2015, I moved a motion that saw City Council support full producer responsibility and new, comprehensive provincial legislation for waste reduction and resource recovery.

In early June of this year, the Minister of Environment, Conservation, and Parks announced that the province would be considering moving to the Extended Producer Responsibility model of plastic and packaging product recycling. This change is intended to decrease plastic waste across the province.

The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program is a comprehensive policy approach to hold Canadian producers, importers, and brand owners accountable for reducing the environmental impact of their products and packaging. Currently, Ontario's recycling costs are split by municipalities and by Stewardship Ontario, a non-profit organization that collects fees from importers, manufacturers, and brand owners of packaging products that end up in our blue bins. In contrast, EPR is a 'cradle to grave' model of product management, which maintains that the producer must manage the product's entire lifespan. This includes waste reduction, recovery, recycling, and reuse.

Toronto is home to the fourth-largest municipal waste system in North America, managing approximately 200,000 tonnes of recyclables annually through its Blue Bin Recycling Program. Waste audits have indicated that contamination in the City's Blue Bin program has been increasing since 2013, which is costing the City millions annually. There is a lack of awareness of the negative implications of improper disposal. In 2017, more than 52,000 tonnes of non-recyclable material was incorrectly put in our Blue Bins. If you are interested, you can find more information on the City's Waste Wizard webpage.

The EPR model will lead to improved recycling practices by rendering the producer wholly responsible for the physical and financial aspects of the disposal of both the product and the packaging. There are also numerous benefits to making the shift for Toronto taxpayers. A producer-run system could encourage manufacturers to create materials that are easier to recycle and become less reliant on single-use plastics. Currently, the materials that can and can't be recycled vary from city to city, and in some cases, it even varies from homes to industrial buildings.

Switching to the EPR model would likely mean that recycling practices would become standardized across the province, eliminating confusion and reducing contamination. I support implementing the Extended Producer Responsibility model to ensure that the City's waste is mindfully managed in a manner that respects our natural environment and benefits the residents of Toronto.

Ward 15 Community Environment Days

On April 6th and May 9th, neighbours from across Ward 15 joined my team and I at York Mills Collegiate Institute and Leaside Memorial Community Gardens to donate and recycle their used materials. Ward 15 had two of the most well-attended Community Environment Days in the entire City of Toronto!
Thanks to the incredible engagement from residents at this year's event, there was an overwhelming amount of donations that went to help local schools and community organizations. The Toronto Salvation Army even brought in a second collection truck to accommodate all of the great donations they received! 
Countless electronics and household hazardous waste items were also brought to my Environment Day for safe disposal. The free compost was particularly popular as families geared up for spring gardening.
I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak with many friends, as well as new neighbours, about local Ward 15 initiatives. Thank you to all who stopped by my booth to say hello - without your contributions, donations and disposals, my Environment Day events would not have been such a great success.
I also would like to thank the dedicated volunteers, organizations, and staff who attended. It was great to see so many City divisions involved including Toronto Water, Live Green Toronto, Solid Waste Management Services and 311. Community organizations such as Cycle Toronto, the David Suzuki Blue Dot Group, Enbridge Gas and the Salvation Army also made important contributions, both in terms of donation collections and providing information to residents about their organizations.
These are some of my favourite events in Ward 15 and I am already looking forward to next year's Community Environment Days!
For a list of events hosted by other Toronto City Councillors, please visit the City of Toronto's website here.

The Future of Waste Management in Toronto: Open House and Consultation

Join the City of Toronto on March 21, 2018 at City Hall for an update on the City's Waste Strategy!

Learn more about what will be considered when determining whether or not to accept new materials into the Blue Bin recycling and Green Bin organics streams and provide feedback that will help inform future policies.

The event will also provide a look at what the new provincial Waste Free Ontario Act and current market changes could mean for Toronto.

Open House: 2-3 p.m. City Hall, Member's Lounge. 100 Queen Street West
Presentations: 3-5 p.m. City Hall, Council Chambers. 100 Queen Street West

Hear from City staff, provide comments and ask questions during presentations on:

  • Waste Free Ontario Act - Jim McKay, General Manager, Solid Waste Management Services

  • Long Term Waste Management Strategy - Charlotte Ueta, Acting Manager, Waste Management Planning

  • Policy for Addition of New Materials to the City's Waste Diversion Streams - Vince Sferrazza, Director Policy, Planning & Support & Annette Synowiec, Acting Manager, Unit for Research, Innovation & a Circular Economy

Attend the Open House and learn more about City programs including: 3R's AmbassadorsWaste Reduction Community Grants, and more. 

RSVP via Eventbrite by March 18, 2018.

Additional Information: