Ontario has taken a first step towards Extended Producer Responsibility in its new legislation that will require companies producing blue box wastes to pay part of the costs of the program. From the Recycling Policy NewsBriefs Email Bulletin published by Raymond Communications:
The Armchair Garbageman wrote an informative posting on the subject today.
There are several reasons why this new regulation is good news. The simple story is that municipalities are going to get a sizeable sum of money to offset their waste-disposal costs. The bigger story is that producers will now have to factor these costs into the decisions that they make, thus encouraging them to reduce costs and waste over the long term.
Unfortunately, the system isn't complete. Soon, producers will be responsbile for paying part of the costs for recycling their blue-box material packaging. However, I don't know of plans to charge them for their non-recyclable packaging. Making garbage is free, but if you make something that is recyclable, you have to pay. It should be different: if you make something that you reuse you don't have to pay, if you make something that is recyclable you pay, and if you make something that is not recyclable you pay more.
In Europe, legislation is in place that requires producers to pay the cost of recycling their own packaging materials, electronics and automobiles. We're moving a lot slower here in North America, but it sounds like Ontario is beginning to step ahead. In the long run, designers and the actual decision-makers within corporations will be factoring in a little bit of the environmental costs of their decisions.
I have a bit of work experience in this area, and it is interesting to see it finally coming to Canada in a concrete way.