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Ontario Transitioning Municipal Hazardous Waste Program

The Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change recently issued direction to Stewardship Ontario (SO) to wind up the Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste Program by December 31, 2020. This wind up will allow the transition of materials collected under the program to individual producer responsibility under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016.

The Minister’s letters can be found at:

Information related to the program wind up and future consultations will be posted to the Program Wind Up page when available. Until the wind up date, the Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste Program will continue to operate without disruption. This includes the operation of the Industry Stewardship Plans managed by the Automotive Materials Stewardship, the Product Care Association and SodaStream.

The Ontario Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste Program recycles or properly disposes of paint, antifreeze, batteries, fertilizers and other hazardous or special materials.  These wastes will continue to be managed in Ontario, but under a new program.  The winding down of the existing program is part of the provinces attempt to shift to a circular economy – a new waste management approach where waste is seen as a resource that can be recovered, reused and reintegrated into the production stream.

Ontario’s new waste management framework includes new legislation and a strategy to guide progress that will protect the environment, drive innovation, performance and competitiveness, and stimulate economic growth and development.

 

Recycling end-of-life materials may be perpetuating toxic chemicals in new products

A researcher from the Canadian Environmental Law Association and paralegal, Fe de Leon, recently co-published a paper with HEJSupport International Co-Director Olga Speranskaya to bring public attention to toxic chemicals that appear in new products made out of recycled materials.  The authors of the paper argue that many countries have made investments into achieving progress towards a circular economy, but little or no attention is paid on toxic chemicals that appear in new products made out of recycled materials. The paper cites a growing body of evidence of how a circular economy fails to address concerns regarding toxic chemicals in products.

Fe de Leon, Researcher and Paralegal, CELA

In the paper, the authors cite a 2017 study prepared by IPEN, an environmental activist organization that focuses on synthetic chemicals, which revealed elevated concentrations of globally targeted toxic flame retardants in plastic toys.  The IPEN study claimed to have found elevated concentrations of toxic persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in samples of plastic toys purchased in different stores in Canada and other 25 countries globally.  The study further stated that the levels of some chemicals were more than five times higher than recommended international limits.  These chemicals include PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) such as octabromodiphenyl ether (OctaBDE), decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE); and SCCPs (short chain chlorinated paraffins).  They are listed under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and are internationally banned or restricted due to their hazardous characteristics.  They all are persistent, highly toxic, travel long distances and build up in the food chain.  However, their presence in new products, although they are banned or restricted, opens up the discussion of a problem regarding recycling as a key component of a circular economy.

The paper concludes that product recycling and a focus on a circular economy should be encouraged.  However, material flows should be free from hazardous chemicals, at the minimum those chemicals which have already been regulated under the international treaties.

Olga Speranskaya, HEJSupport International Co-Director, IPEN CoChair