March 8, 2004

WDO posts latest Ontario recycling program statistics

Modest increases in the number of municipal residential recycling programs operating in Ontario in 2002, as well as in recovery rates and quantities of Blue Box wastes marketed, are among the highlights of the 2002 Tonnage and Blue Box Financial Datacall summary recently posted by Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) on its Web site,

This information shows the success of Ontario municipal programs in diverting waste from landfill. Tonnage data are provided for each municipality for the calendar year 2002 for Blue Box materials, organic waste, household special wastes, electronic waste and other recyclable materials. Also included is detailed cost information for residential Blue Box programs.

Both the tonnage data and Blue Box financial data were verified by separate committees, each of whose members represent both municipalities and industry. The financial committee also includes representatives from a third party firm specializing in municipal finances.

Residential Blue Box tonnage and cost data provide the basis for allocating funding to municipalities through the Blue Box program plan, approved last December by Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky. Under the plan, brand owners and first importers of products that result in packaging and printed materials collected through residential Blue Box programs are responsible for 50% of the net costs of the operation of these programs as of February 1, 2004. Stewardship Ontario, an industry funding organization, is responsible for collecting levies from its members and for disbursing funds to municipal programs.

WDO assumed responsibility for the Municipal 3R's Tonnage Datacall survey in 2003. This survey, conducted annually since 1997, was previously done by a partnership involving the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Ontario municipalities, industry, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The latest survey shows that there were 197 municipal residential recycling programs operating in 2002, up from 193 in 2001. This total reflects both programs which were amalgamated and joint programs which were disbanded during 2002.

A total of 727,000 tonnes of residential Blue Box waste were marketed in 2002. This is a 4.8% increase over the 2001 recovery of 693,500 tonnes. Recovery rates per household for residential Blue Box waste rose from 161 kilograms per year in 2001 to 164 kg in 2002.

The survey also shows that in 2002, 74 programs provided weekly curbside collection of residential Blue Box waste, serving 38% of total households, while 59 programs were providing biweekly curbside collection. Of the total households served by curbside collection of Blue Box waste, 38% were receiving weekly collection and 51% were receiving biweekly collection.

Bag limits have been implemented as part of 37 programs to support waste diversion programs. The most common bag limits are two or three bags per collection. Another strategy to support waste diversion is some form of a pay-as-you-throw system; 90 programs have reported incorporating such systems, typically levying between $1 to $2 per additional bag of garbage set out.

Of the 197 Blue Box programs operating in 2002, 123 programs, serving a total of 4.1 million households, provided collection services for other residential recyclables. This included items such as scrap metal, wood, drywall, brick and concrete, textiles, white goods (i.e. large appliances), brown goods (i.e. small appliances) and bulky goods (i.e. furniture).

Municipal programs collected 95,200 tonnes of other residential recyclables in 2002, down 4.7% from the 2001 recovery of 100,000 tonnes. Per-household recovery rates declined as well, from 25 kg per year in 2001 to 23 kg per year in 2002.

Electronic waste was collected under 49 programs in 2002, an increase from the 45 programs reporting in 2001. The survey also indicated that 3.2 million households had access to a collection system for electronic waste in 2002.

Of the 49 programs, weight information was reported from 29 programs. The total electronic waste collected from these 29 programs in 2002 was 775 tonnes. In 2001, 22 of the 45 programs reported weight information, for a total of 517 tonnes. Of those programs reporting, electronic waste was collected at 11 special events, 22 permanent household special waste (HSW) depots and 22 other recycling depots.

Municipal HSW programs collect this material through permanent drop-off depots, special collection events or combinations of both. In 2002, 76 programs offered HSW collection programs, an increase from 70 programs in 2001. These programs together diverted 12,280 tonnes of HSW from municipal landfills, a 33% increase over the 2001 recovery of 9,220 tonnes.

There were 78 municipal residential organic waste collection programs operating in 2002, down from the 84 programs operating in 2001. The decrease was the result of program amalgamations during 2002. Together, these programs collected 360,000 tonnes of residential organic waste, an increase of 10.7% over the 325,000 tonnes recovered in 2001.

Four million Ontario households have access to curbside collection and depot collection of residential organics. Most of these programs are for seasonal leaf and yard waste collection. Per-household recovery rates for residential organic waste increased from 81 kg per year in 2001 to 90 kg per year in 2002.

The organic waste was composted in 47 windrow composting sites, 23 static pile facilities, seven in-vessel facilities and two anaerobic digestion facilities. The survey reports that 12 programs in Ontario are collecting household organics such as food waste and non-recyclable or soiled paper waste.

Programs reporting distribution of finished compost indicated that 37% was sold, 30% was given away and 33% was used by the municipality. As well, 62 municipal programs have banned collection of grass clippings.

In 2002, municipalities assisted in the distribution of 4,000 new backyard composters, which will divert an estimated 400 tonnes annually. To date, Ontario municipalities have distributed a total of 125,000 backyard composters.

The Municipal Financial Datacall is used to calculate the industry funding contribution to municipalities to support programs to manage residential Blue Box Waste. Stewards' fees must be submitted to the Minister of Environment for approval before implementation.

In order to ensure that the 2004 stewards' fees would be available for implementation in 2004, it was necessary to determine the net program cost before verification of the 2002 Financial Datacall was completed. Working with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and Stewardship Ontario, WDO determined a net program cost to be used to calculate material-specific stewards' fees in 2004.

Through a number of adjustments to the partially verified 2002 Financial Datacall database, WDO arrived at a net program cost for 2002 of $84 million; this figure will be used to calculate material-specific stewards' fees in 2004, and will not be adjusted following completion of the verification process.

More information is available from Glenda Gies, WDO executive director, 416/226-5113, FAX 416/226-3618.

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