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[greenyes] Recycling flaws in Ontario

Hello all,

This article's lead points to Ontario's failure to deliver when it comes to
recycling cans (and e-waste). Ironically, American opponents of deposits
have recently been pointing to "the Ontario model" as an alternative method
of achieving producer responsibility. Basically, they have a cost-sharing
system where beverage companies kick in 50% of the cost of municipal
curbside recycling. The cost sharing may work, but as this article attests,
it's not achieving decent UBC recycling rates.

Clearly, producer responsibility initiatives must have measureable
performance goals and enforcement provisions for failure to meet those


Province failing to monitor projects for environmental safety: report

Canadian Press

October 21, 2004

TORONTO -- Ontario landfills are brimming with one billion aluminum pop cans
and mounds of discarded cell phones, computers and televisions, the
province's environmental watchdog said Thursday as he pushed for an
aggressive plan to deal with the problem.

Gord Miller's fifth annual report also accused the province of allowing
thousands of development projects to escape environmental scrutiny and noted
that 40 per cent of Ontario cities have no bylaws forbidding toxic material
from entering the sewer system.

However, critics were quick to complain about what was absent from the
208-page report -- namely any mention of chronic pollution from Ontario's
coal-fired power plants or conservation efforts for the Great Lakes amidst a
draft plan to divert water to the United States.

"I think this was a softball report, quite frankly," said Dan McDermott of
the Sierra Club.

"It was not tough on a number of issues that needed to be tough. (Miller)
danced all around the issue of mercury from Ontario Power Generation . .
.and its role in terms of toxicity in the environment and human health."

McDermott also said the idea that there is excess water to be drained away
from the Great Lakes is a "fiction."

Miller called Ontario's record for recycling aluminum cans "abysmally bad,"
noting that only 42 per cent of cans were collected in 2002 through the
province's blue box program.

In contrast, most Canadian jursidictions with a deposit-refund system
regularly capture 65 to 85 per cent of cans, he said.

In 2002, the Brewers of Ontario reported that more than 91 per cent of the
beer cans and 98 per cent of beer bottles sold through its Beer Store
outlets were returned for deposit.

Deposit fees are typically five cents per can but that a 10-cent deposit
would be more effective, McDermott said.

The report also found that large quantities of toxic substances still flow
through Ontario sewage treatment plans and into rivers and lakes.

"Ontario seems to have lost sight of how important it is to control what
goes into sewers in terms of overall sewage treatment," Miller said. "The
best way to keep those toxins out of the environment is to keep them out of
the sewers."

McDermott said municipalities should be charged for their discharges.

"Putting toxins into our sewer system, into our water, is not acceptable,"
he said.

New Democrat environment critic Marilyn Churley said she was disappointed
the report did not address the controversial Great Lakes water-taking
proposal nor mercury emissions from the province's coal plants.

She also worried about the province's failure to scrutinize any projects
that affect the environment.

The report found that the ministry is neither monitoring nor enforcing
environmental conditions because of exemptions made under the Environmental
Bill of Rights that were meant to eliminate duplications.

"In practice, however, the exemptions mean that some environmental approvals
and permits are getting no public scrutiny at all," Miller said, noting that
research suggests there are probably thousands of permits and approvals that
go unmonitored.

"I don't believe the framers of the law intended such an outcome and I don't
believe it is a good policy to shroud environmentally significant decisions
from public scrutiny."

He said the expansion of Highway 69 in the Muskoka region flooded private
land and killed mature trees and was not monitored to see if it met
conditions to lessen the environmental impact.

© The Canadian Press 2004


Jennifer Gitlitz
Research Director, Container Recycling Institute

Home Office:
2 Pomeroy Ave.
Dalton, MA 01226
Tel. (413) 684-4746
Mobile: (413) 822-0115
Fax: (413) 403-0233
Email: jgitlitz@no.address

Container Recycling Institute headquarters:
1911 N. Ft. Myer Dr. #702
Arlington, VA 22209-1603
Tel. (703) 276-9800
Fax: (703) 276-9587

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