Proposal to amend the Food and Organic Waste Policy Statement. The amendments would clarify and expand the categories of food and organic waste and update direction on the management of compostable products and packaging.

ERO number
019-2498
Notice type
Policy
Act
Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Proposal
Proposal posted
Comment period
September 30, 2020 - November 14, 2020 (45 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:

September 30, 2020
to November 14, 2020

Proposal summary

Ontario is taking action to reduce the amount of food and organic waste going to landfills. We are proposing amendments to the Food and Organic Waste Policy Statement that would help harmonize materials accepted into green bins and other collection systems.

Proposal details

Purpose of proposed changes

There has been a growing interest in compostable products and packaging as an alternative to single use plastics. As more compostable products and packaging are showing up on store shelves and are being used by restaurants, businesses and Canadian households, it is becoming imperative that consumers properly use and dispose these materials. It is also important that remaining end products are managed effectively by waste management processors in a way that is beneficial to the environment and does not simply result in more unintended waste that ends up in landfills.

Our proposed changes to the Policy Statement could result in the harmonization of the types of food and organic waste collected by municipalities, businesses and institutions, while recognizing the challenges in managing some of these materials in existing processing facilities in Ontario. These changes will help both the public and businesses make better decisions with respect to the use of compostable products and packaging.

The changes we are proposing to the Policy Statement would clarify the types of food and organic waste about which the province expects that efforts are made to reduce waste and engage in resource recovery. Businesses, institutions and municipalities would have more information and clarification on what recovery efforts are required to help meet targets under the Policy Statement:

  • efforts shall be made with respect to food waste, inedible parts of plants and animals resulting from food preparation and pet food waste
  • efforts should also be made with respect to several types of organic wastes, such as soiled paper and food packaging, coffee filters, tea bags, compostable coffee pods and compostable bags
  • efforts are encouraged to be made with respect to several types of harder to manage organic wastes, such as diapers and pet waste

We are also proposing the following changes to make the Policy Statement more effective:

  • stating that efforts to meet targets must continue
    • provide that once targets are met in 2023 and 2025, persons and entities subject to these targets, must continue to meet their target in subsequent years
  • making information publicly available
    • set expectation that applicable persons and entities should make information on the results of their efforts publicly available
  • supporting effective management of compostable products and packaging by:
    • encouraging municipalities, organic waste processers and the compost packaging industry to support the use of pilot projects and research on the processing of compostable products and packaging to maximize recovery and minimize contamination
    • encouraging municipalities and organic waste processors to examine the feasibility of updating existing technology to process compostable products and packaging
    • encouraging municipalities and organic waste processors to consider adopting technology to collect and process compostable products and packaging in their systems when they are planning for new technology

Our proposed changes were informed by input received from the public, stakeholders, and Indigenous communities during the following consultations:

  • Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, posted under ERO number 013-4208
  • Reducing Litter and Waste in Our Communities discussion paper, posted under ERO number 013-4689

We also considered feedback from the:

  • Food and Organic Steering Committee and Technical Working Groups held over the summer of 2019
  • one-on-one meetings with interested and affected stakeholders throughout the summer of 2019

Background

On November 29, 2018 the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks posted the Preserving and Protecting our Environment for Future Generations: A Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan which outlined actions to:

  • help protect and conserve our air, land and water
  • address litter and reduce waste
  • increase our resilience to climate change
  • help all of us do our part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

On April 30, 2019 the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks posted the Reducing Litter and Waste in Our Communities: Discussion Paper to further consult on the waste related actions in the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan. The overall goals of the actions set out in the discussion paper are to:

  • decrease the amount of waste going to landfill
  • increase the overall diversion rate

Both the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan and the discussion paper noted above included commitments to prevent food from becoming waste and keeping organics out of the landfill. These commitments include:

  • expanding green bin or similar collection systems in large cities and to relevant business
  • developing a proposal to ban food and organic waste from landfills and consult with key partners such as municipalities, business and waste industry
  • educating the public and business about reducing and diverting food and organic waste
  • developing best practices for safe food donation
  • provide clear rules for compostable products and packaging

In summer 2019, the ministry established the Food and Organic Steering Committee and Technical Working Groups to give advice to the government on a path forward for compostables in the province.

Following discussions of the committee and working groups in 2019, MECP is taking a number of key steps in order to move forward on a number of fronts to address compostables:

  1. Working with federal and provincial partners to examine the role of standards and certification, as well as the need for a new national standard and certification on compostables.
  2. Working with our federal and municipal and industry partners to facilitate pilot testing in order to determine how compostables can be best managed in existing organic processing facilities.
  3. Proposing to amend the Food and Organic Waste Policy Statement to clarify what types of materials, including compostables, should be collected by green bin programs and provide clear direction on the management of compostables.
  4. Providing Guidance on the Food and Organic Waste Policy Statement in order to further reduce and divert food and organic waste and support the expansion of green bins across Ontario.
  5. Reducing burden and modernizing environmental permissions to support organic processing. This in turn could help reduce and also mitigate costs for upgrading existing systems and investing in new technology to process compostables.
  6. Considering options to ban food and organic waste from landfill as discussed in the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan and the Reducing Litter and Waste in Our Communities discussion paper.

This proposal addresses recommendation #3 above and the government continues to assess how best to address the remaining recommendations.

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

The comment period was from September 30, 2020
to November 14, 2020

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