Monday, September 09, 2013

We'll pay our fair share of Ontario Blue Box, say publishers, but we must control costs

While Ontario publishers are prepared to pay a fair share of the Ontario Blue Box recycling program, says Magazines Canada in a written submission to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, this cannot happen unless publishers have a significant say in both how fees are set and control over costs.  The submission is presented in parallel with one from The Coalition for Effective Waste Reduction in Ontario. 

The association says proposed changes in the legislation about recyling cannot work unless producers who are now required to pay 100% of the program costs also have control of  those costs. Ontario publishers, it says, cannot simply be expected to write cheques.
"Under the new Act, producers must have decision-making authority over cost control equal to their responsibility to pay."
Magazines Canada's submission about the proposed new Waste Reduction Act also revisits the issue of so-called "free riders" on the system, particularly including U.S.- and foreign-origin magazines which pay nothing to maintain the system in which they account for as much as half the contents of the typical blue box.
"Any new system must be better designed. Shortcomings in capturing producers cannot be made the responsibility of magazine publishers. Magazine publishers are very prepared to pay to recycle our own paper but they are not prepared to pay any longer to recycle magazines like Vogue, the New Yorker, InStyle or hundreds of other large foreign publishers who are much better funded competitors."
The existing Waste Diversion Act "fails miserably" in capturing and making pay producers of both paper products that have nothing to do with magazine publishing in the province or publications spilling in from foreign jurisdictions.  
"Ontario publishers are the unlucky few producers who are good corporate citizens, happy to pay to see their products through their lifecycle, but who are required to underwrite the recycling costs of products that have nothing to do with the magazine business here in Ontario. These costs include but are not limited to US and other foreign publishers, mailings from the Government of Canada, flyers and residential papers (from home printers, etc.). The paper category includes many producers not captured by the system as it is currently set up. Unfortunately, to date, the solution has been to send the bill for these unfunded costs to those who are already paying their way."
The proposed new Waste Reduction Act proposes to collect many other materials which will significantly increase costs, the letter says. Some way has to be found to track and collect for recycling of products on a material-by-material basis, it says. 
"Paper products, like magazines, are relatively easy to collect and manage unlike many plastic products and other packaging types that are substantially more difficult and expensive to manage. Paper is widely recognized as recycling’s “low hanging fruit”. Ontarians have proven for years that they recycle paper at impressive rates (95%) and we know it is a material that is easily absorbed in the system. Unfortunately, as the recycling system in Ontario has dealt with ever more complex materials, paper fees have escalated wildly. If complex, hard to recycle/administer materials are added, the burden for these materials should not be borne by magazine publishers."
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