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2013-06-04 at 08:28

LETTER: Waste diversion can be an economic driver

By Peter Hargreave
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To the editor:

As we bring in the new, our curbsides and bins fill with all the old — the unwrapped, the used and the discarded. In fact, Ontario resident and businesses produce over 12.5 million tonnes of waste every year.

We pride ourselves in caring about our environment and the work we do to recycle our waste. However despite the hard work many of us put in, the overall recycling rate in Ontario has remained relatively stagnate at under 25 per cent for the last two decades.

As a result, 75 per cent of our waste remains destined for disposal and almost four million tonnes of industrial and commercial waste is exported to U.S. disposal facilities.

This represents an enormous loss of resources and economic opportunity. It is not just the material value of the waste that is lost, but also the business opportunities by failing to recycle and to integrate recovered resources into new products and packaging that can be sold again.

A recent study on the economic benefits of recycling in Ontario indicated that for every 1,000 tonnes recycled: Seven jobs are created; over $700,000 in GDP and $360,000 in wages are generated.

These economic benefits are supported by many other reports, which underline the positive impacts of waste diversion including creating jobs with higher than average incomes; boosting public revenues; and adding value to the overall economy. While jurisdictions throughout the world are moving forward with strategies to take advantage of waste diversion as an economic driver, Ontario is being left behind. Ontario needs an effective legislative framework and the regulatory tools to realize the economic and environmental benefits from greater waste diversion.

Peter Hargreave,
Director of Policy Ontario Waste Management Association

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