Town gets money for ‘blue box’ program

Stewardship Ontario last week sent out cheques totalling $6.7 million to 190 municipalities in Ontario—the first payment under the provincial Waste Diversion Act to help them pay for “blue box” programs.
Fort Frances wound up getting $6,408 as its share, Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown noted yesterday.
“It’s good that we’re getting funding, but we’re probably going to get less in future payments,” he remarked. “The numbers the funding is based on for this payment were from 2002, and we know those numbers dropped between 2002 and 2003.”
The funds are distributed to municipalities according to calculations made by Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) based on the efficiency of their “blue box” programs, the range of materials they collect, and the tonnage each diverts from landfill sites.
Brown said between 2002 and 2003, the amount of recyclables dropped after the Northwest Ontario Recycle Association folded and the town switched to Koochiching County’s Environmental Services Department.
“But with the ‘bag tags’ in place, things will pick up in 2005,” he remarked, adding that not only will greater amounts of materials be put into “blue boxes” as opposed to the landfill, but the town can use the money generated from “bag tags” to increase the variety of materials that will be picked up.
This, in turn, will see more efficiency and greater tonnages diverted, which theoretically should translate into more money from Stewardship Ontario.
Other district municipalities that received cheques from Stewardship Ontario included Alberton ($525), Atikokan ($2,797), Chapple ($405); Emo ($1,326), and Sioux Narrows ($721).
Other communities in the region that got cheques from the WDO were Dryden ($7,516), Kenora ($15,443), and Thunder Bay ($56,503).
Brown said he found it odd that Dryden received more than Fort Frances, considering the population there was smaller. As well, in 2002, Dryden recycled the same materials as Fort Frances since both were under NORA.
He said he’s contacted Stewardship Ontario about it, but that he’s gotten no clear answer. But he speculated the difference may have been simply that Dryden residents—who also were using “bag tags”—were recycling more than Fort Frances residents.
The Waste Diversion Act 2002 obligates brand owners and first importers who use packaging or printed papers that ultimately are handled through Ontario municipal waste management programs to contribute to a fund equal to 50 percent of the net cost of municipal recycling programs.
The funds then are distributed to municipalities according to calculations made by the WDO.
The funding formula is detailed in the “Blue Box Program Plan,” which was produced last year by Stewardship Ontario in co-operation with the WDO and approved by Environment minister Leona Dombrowsky in December.
The plan called for the obligated companies, called “stewards” under the plan, to contribute their 50 percent share of net costs beginning Feb. 1, 2004.
This first payment to municipalities covers the period from Feb. 1-April 30, 2004. A second set of cheques will be distributed in September and then quarterly thereafter.
Stewardship Ontario also said provisions have been made to fund activities to increase material recycling rates and to reduce program costs, including strengthening markets for recovered materials, public education and awareness, and innovations to promote efficiency and effectiveness.
“The funding being provided by brand owner and first importer companies that comprise Stewardship Ontario will ensure that municipalities have the security of knowing their recycling programs are financially viable in the long-term,” said Damian Bassett, CEO of Stewardship Ontario.
“At the same time, Stewardship Ontario, on behalf of its members, will work co-operatively with municipalities to help identify and drive down costs,” he added.
“The ultimate goals is to develop one of the most cost-efficient waste diversion systems in the world.”
Bassett said more than 1,500 companies doing business in Ontario have registered as stewards with Stewardship Ontario, and that work is continuing to reach out to the estimated 2,000-3,000 additional companies that are required to register to meet the requirements of the Waste Diversion Act.
“This step underlies the successful launch of the first waste diversion program under the Waste Diversion Act, and represents a breakthrough approach to waste management in Ontario,” said WDO executive director Glenda Gies.
“Companies that produce and distribute products in Ontario which subsequently become waste will be required to accept greater responsibility for management of the materials at the end of their useful life,” she noted.
“The WDO already has programs under development for used oil material (used oil, filters, and bottles) and for used tires, and the minister of the environment is expected to designate additional waste streams in the months and years ahead,” added Gies.