Somewhat unnoticed in the COVID pandemic is the fact that the Ontario Government was been implementing a fundamental shift in the responsibility for dealing with a variety of hazardous and hard-to-dispose materials, such as tires, plastic and electronic waste. The key to the new policies is to shift responsibility back to the producers of these products. Producers in turn have farmed out the work to Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) who will actually take over the recovery and recycling of the materials. City staff are now recommending that Hamilton enter into agreements with PRO’s to take over the recycling work.
In Hamilton it means residents will still be able to take these materials to the city transfer stations as before, but now it will be the Producer Responsibility Organizations who will remove and recycle the materials and absorb the cost of doing so. At present the City receives partial reimbursement for its recycling costs from the government. That subsidy would be lost if for some reason the city did not go along with the new system. In addition the city would still have to pay to get rid of the products. Under the recommended plan the city will be able to upload $441,000 in disposal costs to the PRO’s.
The staff report notes that the Ontario Tire Stewardship Program was transitioned to the new model on January 1, 2019 and has saved the City approximately $15,000 per year. The battery collection program, which transitioned on July 1, 2020 is estimated to save the City an additional $8,000 per year.
By uploading the Electrical and Electronic Waste Program (EEE) on January 1, 2021 and the Municipal Hazardous and Special Waste Program (MHSW) on July 1, 2021, it will save the City an estimated $471,440 per year ($30,000 for EEE program and
The old tire recovery program ended on December 31, 2018. At the time of transition, the contractor operating the City’s transfer stations and community recycling centres (TS/CRCs) signed with a designated PRO. As a result, the City was no longer invoiced for the cost of used tires collected at these sites from residents.
Similarly with the battery recovery program staff negotiated directly with a battery PRO. A one-year contract from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, was finalized between the City and Call2Recycle which has transitioned the cost of this program to the individual battery producers.
Of immediate need is a deal to cover electronic waste, since the existing provincial program expired at the end of 2020. At the end of this year it will be necessary to negotiate an agreement to deal with Hazardous waste as Ontario rolls out regulations to cover those products.
For each program, PROs must register with the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (the Authority). The PROs work on behalf on producers to ensure that they meet their annual collection targets set by the MECP. The PROs also work with municipalities to reimburse them for any costs related to collecting, transporting and recycling eligible products.