McROBERT PRESENTATION: Slides 11-26 cover

Legal and Policy Instruments and Zero Waste:
Reflections on the Past 30 years
David McRobert
Zero Waste Conference, Lakehead University
Orillia, Ontario
August 11, 2014
“Garbage” Lawyer
Worked for 16 years at the Environmental
Commissioner of Ontario
Part-time professor at FES, York, 1994-2009
Became fascinated with waste working as a bus boy
in 1975
Worked as waste and climate change campaigner at
Pollution Probe, 1990-91
Strong connections between two areas; e.g. climate
change crisis shows atmosphere has become the
great garbage dump in the sky
At MOE worked on 3Rs regs. and enabling law
Object of the study and Method
 Policy Context
 Ontario Blue Box Deal
 Performance of the BB System and
various consequences
 How to improve the situation
 Summary
Object of the study
The object of the study is to analyse
changes in public policy related to
waste diversion in the past 25 years.
 To conserve time the focus of this
presentation will be on Ontario
What is law reform about?
Legal change is not the same as social
change; we must change hearts and
minds as well as laws otherwise the
reforms do not take hold.
 This is hard work!
 Similarly, good laws start with good
meta-policies that are coherent and
durable- must be integrated
What are metapolicies??
A metapolicy - otherwise known as a
‘policy on policies’ – provides a
framework that sets out to define the
range of compliance documents (e.g.
regulations, policies, procedures,
protocols) and establish a
classification system which groups
them (e.g. financial, information
More on metapolicies
In addition, it identifies and describes
the processes by which the compliance
documents are developed, reviewed
and made available to stakeholders.
 Metapolicy – Overarching Policies
– Sub-policies; Laws; Regs; Guidelines;
project approvals
Metapolicies underpin laws
Values and long term sustainability
goals must inform the core metapolicies underpinning laws
 Take a specific challenge e.g. e-waste,
wet waste, and work on Meta-policy
Promoting positive law reform
How can we promote positive law
reform? (hint: with good meta-policies)
 In short, good process plus good
content, leads to positive law reform
 Examples; Pay Equity, Gay Rights, etc.
 Waste Reduction Act will likely become
law in Ontario but process was poor
and result seems highly questionable
What is the current metapolicy?
Post-industrial capitalism,
supercharged by Developing Nation
(China, India, etc.) desire to sell us
plastic junk
 Waste generation assumed and
facilitated by relatively cheap energy
 Goods shipped hither and yon,
contributing to climate change
Current metapolicy
Repair of products, clothing, etc.
discouraged by manufacturers and
retailers such as Walmart, Target and
 E.g. Optical retailers at Loblaw’s
Superstores “unable” (according to
management) to obtain replacement
arms for damaged eyeglasses after 1824 months
Guilt relief
North Americans ship many bicycles in
disrepair to Cuba instead of
refurbishing them here. In Sweden and
other European nations, bikes now are
being repaired
 Similarly we ship eyeglasses
 Undermines development of local
capacity and true sustainability
Consequences (1)
Skills in repair businesses lost
 Possibility of strengthening local
economies undermined
 Scrap metal and plastic dealers are
thriving in small communities
 In Peterborough, hoards of men
collecting welfare drive around in
trucks scooping up marketable wastes
Consequences (2)
Waste generation, energy consumption
pollution, CO2, etc. are increasing
 Most consumers don’t understand it is
in their best interests to buy durable
and repairable products. Some do;
hence the popularity of well built cars
in the past two decades
 Consumers and government are failing
to deliver vital signals to market
But Query …
Does Walmart or big business really
care? Selling disposable junk is their
business model
 Similalrly local government waste
management and recycling programs
have enabled the continued distribution
of throwaway products because of lack
of EPR laws by senior levels of
Zero waste is a metapolicy
Zero waste is a meta-policy, a path, a
direction, a target; it’s a process, a way
of thinking, a vision
 See Paul Connett’s excellent 2013
book, The Zero Waste Solution
It’s Not Garbage Coalition
Based out of Pollution Probe 1988-1992
and its members included CELA,
Greenpeace, TEA, etc.
 Goal was zero waste for disposal
 Received tens of thousands in
participant funding for IWA process in
Waste Reduction in Ontario
See David McRobert et al., Five Years
of Failure on Waste Reduction in
Ontario (August 1990); Published by
Pollution Probe
 Led in part to election of NDP
government, banning of incineration
and long distance export of garbage in
Waste Reduction in Ontario
Impetus for establishment of the WRO
at MOE (1991-1994)
 Impetus for quick enactment of the
Waste Management Act (1992),
formation of the Interim Waste
Authority in 1991 and the passage of
the 3Rs regs in March 1994
 Also: funding to RCO for 3Rs education
and social marketing (cut in 1995)
Design for Sustainability
Design for Sustainability:
 Products should be made for a
prolonged life and capable of easy
disassembly and repair
 Packaging should be designed for
reuse; Too many products are
designed to be thrown away.
 Redesigning and managing products to
be repairable
Getting to Design for Disassembly
Redesign requires collective
responsibility by:
 individuals
 communities
 industries
 professionals
 politicians
How do we get to Zero Waste?
Decision makers need to work with the
public to find solutions
 Recommending better industrial
designs to industry on packaging and
Getting to zero
Best practices for waste reduction and
avoidance strategies from around the
world – decision makers and
 Redesign incorporated into the 3 R’s
(fourth R)
udy Notes – Product Stewardship Issues Related to Vacuum Cleaner and Small Appliance Repair in th
By David McRobert and Meghan Robinson
1992 reforms to Ontario EPA
In 1992 while working at the WRO of
MOE I helped to draft provisions
(contained in the Waste Mgt Act, 1992)
that amended the EPA that allowed
MOE to ban or regulate products that
“posed waste management problems”
 We intended to target disposable
diapers, tetrapaks (and other
multimaterial packaging)
Products and services that pose waste
problems circa 2014
Obvious culprits remain:
 Disposable diapers, razors, cameras,
smart phones and other e-waste, etc.
 Less obvious: advertising industry,
politicians, Cdn. Senators, Toronto
Maple Laughs, etc
udy Notes – Product Stewardship Issues Related to Vacuum Cleaner and Small Appliance Repair in th
By David McRobert and Meghan Robinson
Case Study 1 – Vacuum Cleaners
See separate draft hand out
 Case Study Notes – Product
Stewardship Issues Related to Vacuum
Cleaner and Small Appliance Repair in
the 2010s
 By David McRobert and Meghan
Robinson, August 8, 2014
Case Study 2: the BB System
See David McRobert, My Municipal
Recycling System Made me Fat and
Sick (June 2012, available on Amazon)
 See also blog posts for Solid Waste
and Recycling Magazine
 See
Method and Methodology
Nothing as practical as a good theory.
The theoretical framework I use is
ecological history, the approach I
developed in 1983 for my Master’s work
at the Faculty of Environmental Studies
for his MES degree (1984). The
analytical method is informed by the
work of economic historians such as
Harold Innis and the Annales school
Approach to analysis
To locate environmental and related
waste policy in the context of social,
technological and economic changes
that have taken place in the past
 Focus on development of the Blue Box
system (BBS) in Ontario
 Examine whether there was evidence of
regulatory capture of Ontario MOE
Previous work
Ontario's Blue Box System: A Case Study of
Government's Role in the Technological
Change Process, 1970-1991
Extracted from: David McRobert, Labour
Relations, Technological Change and
Sustainability: Resolving the Structural
Issues. Osgoode Hall Law School, York
University, October 1994.
Used Materials Economy, pre 1900
Prior to 1900s, trash or MSW was not
the norm in cities
 With goods and money scarce,
everything possible was recycled or
 See S. Strasser, Waste and Want (1999)
 Deposits on used containers became
the norm because they were perceived
as so valuable
Industrial Change
For decades, energy and raw materials have
been perceived by North Americans as
cheap, labour as expensive
 In part this was because of large government
subsidies to resource extraction industries,
especially to oil and gas, mining and forestry
 Some marxist critics such as Drache,
Glasbeek and Panitch have argued this was a
deliberate economic policy in some
developed nations to reduce bargaining
power of labour unions
Subsidies and Resource Industries
Subsidies to resource industries were:
1. were intended to maintain legitimacy of NA
urban industrial growth model;
 2. helped facilitate tech change in
workplaces because management has legal
control of technology, use of energy, etc;
 3. Provided a type of industrial policy
because Canada had developed on the
Staples model (per Innis), despite calls for
value added production
Case Study: Small Appliance Repair
Vacuum cleaner repair
Case Study: the BB System
Policy Context for Blue Box
In 1962 the inexorable march from
refillable soft drink (SD) containers to
non-refillables begins – the first steel
pop can sent to Korea by US military
Policy Context (2)
Industry sought to redesign its
manufacturing processes and distribution
networks to reduce labour costs by
increasing reliance on resources, increasing
packaging waste (fewer bulk goods are sold,
fewer meat butchers)
 Industry, govts and some ENGOs say
recycling is answer to packaging waste
 But economic “barriers” were apparent in the
1970s; see Probe’s 1984 report called
Breaking the Barriers to recycling
Policy Context (3)
Trend toward disposable products after WW
II to fuel economic growth and promote
consumer convenience
 Desire to use storage space in garage for
“stuff” rather than used bottles
 SD industry wanted "packaging freedom":
freedom to use cheaper packages for their
products, freedom to concentrate ownership,
challenge unions, get rid of deposits
Ontario Blue Box Deal, 1985
ENGOs accept the concept of packaging
freedom and reliance on disposable plastic
bottles and aluminum cans in return for
greater SD industry support for recycling.
 using more valuable materials like aluminum
to subsidize curbside recycling seemed like
a way to break the cost barriers that had
been encountered since removing subsidies
to raw materials and energy seemed unlikely.
Relax SD refills to 40 percent
participants involved in the multi-stakeholder
consultation agreed to relax the refillable
quota to 40 percent, that is, down from 75
percent (1978), if the SD industry contributed
$1 million to expand the Blue Box system
(BBS). Eventually increased to $20 million.
 Meanwhile refillables disappeared as SD
companies and retailers reduced prices for
Performance – has BBS worked?
In many respects, yes, from an
environmental perspective
 Blue Box made mandatory for Ontario
municipalities (above 5000) in 1994
 Thunder Bay in NW Ontario resisted,
saying it wanted its bottling plants back
 Must look at the Social, Economic, and
Labour implications in context of
Environmental Performance
Economic Impacts
The BBS resulted in the loss of
thousands of jobs in the refillable soft
drink network (e.g. Pop Shoppe) that
dominated most NA jurisdictions prior
to the late 1960s.
 Many unionized local jobs in smaller
communities were lost as local bottlers
were closed; negative in terms of
community economic development
Economic Impacts (2)
In 1985 SD industry estimated to be saving
$85 million/year, probably higher now
 the SD industry was able to reduce the price
of soft drinks
 Retailers able to sell more product;
eliminated jobs associated with pop bottle
 SD industry obtained approx. $10 million in
tax breaks from feds investing in enviro tech
between 1985 and 1991
Economic Impacts (3)
Jobs also were created by municipalities and
industry to promote recycling and 3Rs but
most of these would have been created
anyway if a coherent 3Rs framework had
been developed (e.g. to conserve landfill
space, reduce incineration)
 Related to NIMBY protests; govts forced to
commit to better 3Rs programs
Other structural changes
Coke and Pepsi developed massive
centralized distribution and marketing
infrastructure, perfectly suited to
selling bottled water when that became
a high demand product in the 1990s
 Unredeemed SD deposits unavailable
for funding system, unlike other
provinces such as Quebec where they
are clawed back by province
Environmental Performance
Overall BBS increased paper, metal and
glass recycling
 Rates vary considerably all over Canada
 Awareness about environmental benefits has
grown significantly, partly because of the
emphasis put on educating children who
then “educate” (read guilt?) adults
 CSNY lyric - “teach your parents well”
Capturing the embodied energy
How do we best recapture the embodied
energy and material value in used
 Energy equivalent of half a gallon of gasoline
used to make an aluminum SD can from raw
materials (bauxite)
 Deposits are a proven economic instrument,
recapturing between 70% and 98%
depending on amount, system architecture,
etc (5 cents vs 40)
Hierarchy of “Recycling”
Container is Returned and Refilled
Clean Segregated Material is
Re-made into a New Container
Material Recovered in Blue Box
Re-processed and “down-cycled”
Container is Lost to
Landfill or Burned
LCBO Glass Recycling Pre 2007
(excluding refillable beer with deposits)
Recovered &
Lost to the
< 48%
32% +
PET Recycling in BB
Recovered &
Lost to the
Aluminum Can Recycling
Recovered &
Lost to the
Aseptic Carton Recycling
Recovered &
13% - 25%
Lost to the
Energy and SD Distribution
Centralized production means that SD
industry ships product much farther to
its markets
 E.g. a can of pop which is 98% water is
shipped to northern Ontario, whereas
previously SDs was bottled and
distributed locally, conserving energy
 Threshold distance for equivalent LCA
performance: approx. 300 kms
Health Consequences
Cheap prices allowed SD companies to
capture a larger share of the stomachs
of Canadian consumers, encouraging a
shift from milk and juice consumption
to much cheaper soft drink products.
 adults and children began to consume
cheap soft drinks on a daily basis
(sometimes many cans or bottles in a
single day).
Health Consequences (2)
Cheap soft drinks have contributed
significantly to rising obesity levels in
North America
 But cheap SDs only were one factor in
rising obesity levels – rise of gaming,
internet, etc also very important
 prompted the current Ontario
government to establish a Ministry of
Health Promotion in 2004
Social Consequences
Women always have been more deeply
involved than men in the domestic economy
and sorting repairables and reuseables (see
Strasser, 1999)
 Empirical evidence is not available but the
success of Blue Box and Green Bin
programs now also rests largely on women
who undertake more sorting and washing of
recyclables which benefits municipalities
and the private sector purchasers of recycled
Social Consequences (2)
BBS Cost structure meant that municipalities
were forced to divert from money from social
services such as day care, etc. to pay for
 Some anecdotal evidence men also shifted
their behaviour in the past twenty five years;
and no longer feel the need to help carry
heavier glass bottles home from the grocery
store, hence they no longer shop as much
Consequences for workers
Collecting solid waste and recyclables at
curbside and processing them in material
recovery facilities (MRFs) is dangerous work
 In cities car drivers can be impatient near
waste service trucks, and workers are injured
in collisions
 musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) from
repetitive motions such as sorting and lifting,
slipping on ice, etc are frequent
Consequences for workers (2)
injuries from broken glass and other
sharp materials
 Workers are killed in machinery
 Injury rates lead to pressure for
privatization of garbage and waste to
reduce OHS and Worker Comp claims
 In contrast, injury rates at the Beer
Stores tend to be much lower because
bottles are sorted in a different manner
On OHS issues, see
Occupational Health and Safety in Ontario's
3Rs Sector: Emerging Issues and An
Overview of the Workplace Health and Safety
Agency, Presentation to the 15th Annual
Conference of the Recycling Council of
Ontario, Hamilton, Ontario, October 5-7,
1994, M. Levitsky, D. McRobert et al
Political consequences
In Ontario, NDP were unable (and unwilling)
to reverse the deal struck by the Liberals in
1985 (political commitment in 1990 election)
 Despite pressure for refillable PET to
conserve energy, SD industry insists it’s
stuck with its current technological model
 other options for increasing producer
responsibility, despite success in Europe,
have been resisted by industry
 MOE policy capacity was reduced by Harris
govt and remains very weak
Political Consequences (2)
Free trade puts pressure on Ontario
beer industry – cheap US beer in cans
to be collected in BBS
 In 1991-1992, 5-6000 jobs threatened
 Beer Can Tax is implemented in
response – refillables policy and
environmental protection used to
protect jobs and $2 billion in revenues
 Aluminum companies challenge tax
Political consequences (3)
Legislative framework contained in the WDA,
the regulations, approved programs all
shaped by BBS
 Flaws highlighted last summer with haz
waste eco tax which had to be rescinded by
Ont. govt
 WDO a very small and politically weak
organization dealing with large powerful
 Large complex network of consultants and
lobbyists has developed to support industry
Political consequences (4)
LCBO bottles used the Blue Box
system until 2007 but the municipalities
didn’t want the containers in there
 Pressure to move containers to deposit
return and depots/The Beer Store
 New program a success - supports
clean cullet for remaking bottles and
other value added products – also gets
more folks back to Beer Store
How do we improve the situation?
Direct evidence of regulatory capture is hard
to identify but the regulatory process was
seriously flawed re: policy options
 Technology and environmental assessment
is required before new technologies such as
the BBS are implemented
 For used containers look at half-back
deposits like New Brunswick or Beer Can
Tax in Ontario to incent consumers to use
How do we improve situation? (2)
Taxes on raw materials (aka “virgin
 Increase cost of energy
 Producer responsibility for waste, as
implemented in Europe
 Less focus on “end of pipe” solutions
such as the Blue Box, more on waste
reduction and changing behaviour to
reduce consumption
How do we improve situation? 3)
A Deposit – Return system for all
containers – using depots or the Beer
– Job creation for youth or disabled peoples
at depots
– makes refilling glass or PET possible
– will increase capture of PET, aseptic
cartons and aluminum for recycling
In Summary …
The present BBS does not incent
reduction or reuse or the refilling of
 D/R would improve the environmental
performance and outcomes
 BBS has helped promote rising obesity
Thank You For Your Attention
David McRobert
[email protected]
The History - continued
1997 City of Toronto files an EBR review and
passes a by-law requiring deposits (by-law
neutralized by MMAH regulation)
1998 LCBO provides $4 million in Blue Box
 1999 ECO AR discusses deposit-return
 2002 LCBO ups contribution to $5 million
 2005 Beverage Alcohol System Review Panel
recommends: keep beer D/R, do independent
study of the life cycle of LCBO containers to
determine best system
Consequences of Policy Choices
Coke and Pepsi developed massive
centralized distribution and marketing
infrastructure, perfectly suited to
selling bottled water
The Issue: LCBO Containers
Inextricably interwoven with the soft
drink container issue
 Issue: How do we best recapture the
embodied energy and material value in
these containers?
 We presently use the Blue Box but it’s
not working well and the municipalities
don’t want the containers in there
The Issue: LCBO Containers
Inextricably interwoven with the soft
drink container issue
 How do we best recapture the embodied
energy and material value in these
 We presently use the Blue Box but it’s
not working well and the municipalities
don’t want the containers in there
How would we pay for D/R?
Unredeemed deposits
 Environmental levy - $65 million
collected by MOF to “encourage use of
refillable containers”
 $5 million LCBO BB contribution
How do we improve the situation?
Prescribe the LCBO under the EBR so
its decisions would be subject to public
review and comment
 the public would be able to file
‘Request for Review’ applications re
their policy decisions as they impact
the environment
Object of the study
The object of the study is to analyse
changes in public policy related to
waste diversion in the past 25 years.
 focus will be on Canadian examples
 also will discuss international
developments on producer
responsibility, waste reduction and reuse.
The History
1962 the inexorable march from refillable soft
drink containers to non-refillables begins – the
first pop can!
1991 the MCCR tries to make the LCBO
introduce refillables – fails
1994 Blue Box made mandatory
1997 ECO recommends MCCR study refillable
PET for LCBO containers
1997 municipalities begin calling for deposits
on LCBO containers
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