Manufacturers of currently nonrecyclable items like coffee pods will have to pay if they want their products accepted into the city’s recycling system, according to a staff proposal adopted by the city’s public works and infrastructure committee Tuesday.
But the general manager of solid waste management services says the city likely won’t add any new items to the blue bin program anytime soon, and can’t say how much a manufacturer might be charged when new products eventually are accepted.
When the city is ready to add products to the blue bins, it will now require the manufacturers to pay for associated costs such as testing, market research, contract changes and education campaigns.
“It takes some of the financial burden off the city and puts it back on the producer,” solid waste general manager Jim McKay told the committee. “It forces the producer to change their packaging to support a better environmental framework.”
Facing “constant pressure” from manufacturers to add products to Toronto’s already strained blue bin system, city staff worked with the provincial government for almost two years to get similar legislation passed, McKay said. Talks stalled in January, so the city is going it alone.
“We’d like the province to move toward producer responsibility, but that’s not happening,” said the committee chair, Councillor Jaye Robinson. “Now we’ve had a change in government we’re not sure what to anticipate, but the bottom line is our staff is taking a leadership role.”
With the city facing a projected $9.2-million plunge in recycling revenue this year, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti questioned why it would accept any new products.
“Why are we adding more stuff (to blue bins) when we have an issue with how we’re recycling now?” he asked.
About a quarter of the 200,000 tonnes of recycling collected annually from Toronto homes is contaminated, meaning products that can’t be recycled and food waste are in the mix, according to a staff report in April. Blue bin contamination lowers city revenue from buyers who sort and sometimes toss items.
McKay agreed with Mammoliti that despite the policy change, he isn’t “willing to entertain any new materials” until the current system “is in check.”