One of the first attempts at following the Ontario government guidelines for making producers responsible for the costs of recycling has resulted in a producer group’s withdrawal of its Recycle Everywhere program for non-alcoholic beverage containers.
After months of implementation delays, the Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association (CBCRA) announced last month it has decided the program is not viable. Fees were to have been assessed of one to three cents on each bottle, can carton or drink box sold in Ontario. This notice came after the provincial government announced plans to discuss deposit and return-based systems similar to those used in the province’s alcoholic beverage containers.
The CBCRA announced its plans earlier this year, and detailed its proposed fees, from 1 cent for aluminium cans to 3 cents for drinking boxes. But CBCRA said it was up to producers to decide if and how the fees would be passed along to retailers. That led to fears that retailers would pass the fees along to consumers, either directly, or indirectly through higher product prices. Retailers balked at both higher costs from producers, and potential backlash from consumers if the fees resulted in higher prices.
Ontario Environment Minister David Piccini balked at the fees ultimately being charged to consumers, and urged producers not to make consumers pay for them. This resulted in delayed implementaiton and negotiations between participants.
CBCRA modelled its Ontario program on a similar initiative in Manitoba. It expected to raise $63 million in funding through the fees in 2023 and $84 million in later years. It projected roughly half the costs would be spent on promotion and education, and purchasing new public space recycling bins – perhaps 250,000 of them – that would eliminate the current burden on municipalities.
In 2020, the Ontario government introduced regulation to make producers 100% physically and financially responsible for the province’s Blue Box recycling program for materials such as paper, glass, cardboard and plastics. Under the current system, costs are shared between producers and municipalities.
This extended producer responsibility program is being phased in, starting July 1, 2023. The changes hand the system to private-sector groups, but those groups are charged with meeting ambitious government-set recycling targets. For non-alcoholic beverage containers, Ontario set a target of recycling 80 per cent of beverage containers by 2030. A report found just 46 per cent of Ontario non-alcoholic drink containers avoided landfills in 2019.
CBCRA said beverage container recovery rates in Manitoba increased from 42 percent in 2011 to 72 per cent in 2021 under its program.