Ontario is currently facing challenges in terms of managing the increasing volume of waste that has resulted from its expanding economy and growing population. Existing public and private waste management infrastructure in Ontario is under great pressure to handle increasing quantities of waste and exporting waste is not a viable long-term solution.

In the face of these challenges, on June 12, 2007, Ontario's Ministry of the Environment published a "Policy Statement on Waste Management Planning" and invited all interested stakeholders to comment on the proposed policy until July 27, 2007. This policy sets out what the province suggests as best practices for the management of waste and the creation of waste management plans.

The policy provides a framework for waste management decisions which is intended to meet the following goals:

  • Protect the environment and public health
  • Resource conservation
  • Encourage innovation
  • Promote sustainable systems

To meet these goals, the policy outlines 12 principles that reflect a "holistic approach" for all stakeholders to consider, including "environmental protection is a shared responsibility", "waste management choices should consider economic, social and environmental costs", "waste should be managed as close to the source of generation as possible", "producer responsibility should be incorporated into waste reduction and management", "maximum value from waste should be recovered from the waste stream" and "innovative waste management technologies and approaches as appropriate to local circumstances should be incorporated to achieve sustainable solutions". 

The policy also outlines the Ministry of Environment's expectations regarding municipal waste management plans including the principles to be considered in developing a waste management plan, as well as the categories of information to be included by a municipality in its plan. The municipal waste management plans are to cover all residential waste generated within the applicable area and all other waste managed by the municipality. This includes residential waste collected by private contractors through a curbside collection program, or collected/disposed at municipal transfer stations, landfills, composting facilities or material recovery facilities. It also includes waste generated by municipal operations or waste collected by the municipality from industrial, commercial and institutional ("IC&I") or construction and demolition ("C&D") sources.

In developing a waste management plan, municipalities are to consider the framework referred to above and the waste management principles set out in the policy statement. The policy encourages partnerships between municipalities to increase efficiency and manage costs, and encourages municipalities to reduce waste at the source, exhaust options to reuse products prior to recycling, and resort to waste disposal only as a last option.

Municipalities with populations of 100,000 or greater are expected to have waste management plans within two years of the policy statement being finalized, whereas municipalities with populations under 100,000 are to have waste management plans within two and a half years of the policy statement being finalized. These waste management plans are to cover a period of 20-25 years.

In conjunction with the release of this policy statement, the Ministry of Environment also announced on June 12, 2007 that it has directed Waste Diversion Ontario to develop an industry-funded waste diversion program for waste electrical and electronic equipment ("WEEE"). A program plan is to be submitted to the Ministry in phases. A Phase I program plan is to be submitted by Waste Diversion Ontario by February 1, 2008, and a Phase II program plan is to be submitted one year following the Ministry's approval of Phase I. The first phase is to deal with products that have the lowest diversion rates such as desktop and notebook computers, monitors, printers, fax machines and televisions. The second phase is to deal with additional products like canners, typewriters, cell phones, cameras, radios, audio players and recorders, and speakers. Other items not specifically referred to are to be phased in at a later date.

These are two steps that the government of Ontario is taking under the Waste Diversion Act, 2002 in an effort to improve waste diversion and implement integrated waste management in Ontario. These steps are in addition to the Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste diversion program that is also currently in progress (see below).

Although the comment period has now closed, the provincial policy statement on waste management planning is still posted on the Environmental Registry at www.ontario.ca/environmentalregistry, registry number 010-0420. The Minister's E-waste program request letter to Waste Diversion Ontario can be viewed on the WEEE Program website at:

http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/land/WDA/electronics/regulation.htm .