Plan becomes reality: Industry to fund 50% of Blue Box costs in Ontario
A long-delayed and much-debated plan to have brand owners and importers ("stewards") pay for half of Onta...
A long-delayed and much-debated plan to have brand owners and importers ("stewards") pay for half of Ontario’s curbside recycling costs will now proceed in early 2004, the McGuinty government has announced. The funding program is an offshoot of Ontario’s Waste Diversion Act, Bill 90.
It is expected that industry will pay about $3 million per month to an industry funding organization, Stewardship Ontario, which will direct the money to municipalities who administer the curbside recycling programs.
One concern of the packaging industry is that the levy will be off-loaded from brand owners to packaging manufacturers. Bill 90 permits the levy to be paid on a "voluntary" basis, which means persons or organizations can pay the levy on behalf of a steward, according to Larry Dworkin, of the Packaging Association of Canada.
PAC, while supportive of Blue Box programs, is concerned about the economic and competitive impacts of this funding plan, and is spearheading a coalition of associations and brand owners pushing for changes to the law.
Another major concern of industry stakeholders is that the costs of the curbside recycling program may have been underestimated. Dworkin says in his meetings with the Ontario government in late 2003 the estimated gross cost of curbside recycling for 2003 was about $100 million. He says that figure is expected to grow as much as 25% for 2004. Under Bill 90, industry will fund 50% of this gross cost.
"Our political action committee is prepared to pay a fair share," says Dworkin. "But we want a more common sense, pragmatic, economically responsible plan."
Michele Raymond, publisher of a U.S.-based newsletter called State Recycling Laws Update, says the plan to charge makers of packaged goods sets is unique. "Approval of this plan does set a new precedent in the area of "producer responsibility worldwide. This is the first time in North America that manufacturers will have to weigh their packaging and calculate fees."
More details can be found at www.stewardshipontario.ca.