Ontario releases new report on tackling food and commercial waste

A new report on tackling food and commercial waste has been released by Dianne Saxe, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.

The report is entitled ‘Beyond the Blue Box: Ontario’s Fresh Start on Waste Diversion and the Circular Economy’.

The study was given to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario following the launch of a new ‘Waste-Free Ontario Act’, which sets an ambitious goal of a circular economy that sends zero waste to landfill.

Saxe examines the new law and strategy and what the province needs to do next.

In a statement, Saxe said that Ontario’s new law was a significant achievement but the government needed to get “serious about making it work”. She said the first steps were to get food waste out of landfills and get businesses “to pull their weight”.
“The new plan looks great on paper,” said Commissioner Saxe. “But we’ve been here before; let’s learn from the past and get it right.”

Ontario residents get a ‘Blue Box’ which they can put recyclables such as paper and packaging in. However, this action diverts less than 8% of Ontario’s total waste.

According to Saxe, the province needs action on diverting household food waste and commercial food waste to make “a real impact” on landfill diversion rates.
Ontario is rightfully proud of the Blue Box, which recycles paper and packaging from homes. But the Blue Box diverts less than 8% of Ontario’s total waste. For real impact, the province needs action on two significant waste streams that have been ignored for far too long.
According to Saxe, landfilled waste causes pollution and squanders valuable resources that should be reused. Additionally, lax rules allow businesses to get away with making products and using processes that drive a “take, use once, throw away” mentality; cheaper in the short run, but much more expensive for society over time.
She said: “The new law, by itself, won’t be enough. To achieve a circular economy, government must also change the social and economic causes of Ontario’s wasteful habits, and enforce tough standards for waste reduction, reuse and recycling. In a circular economy, resources are used over and over, not just once.
“As long as it remains cheaper to buy new stuff and throw it away than to repair, reuse or recycle it, a waste-free Ontario will remain a pipe dream.

“It will take some adjustment. But research shows the huge economic and employment promise of a low-waste economy.”

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario is an independent officer of the Legislature who reports on government progress on climate change, energy and other environmental issues. The ECO is the province's environmental watchdog and guardian of Ontarians' environmental rights.

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