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Municipalities facing stiff recycling costs.

Ontario's blue box recycling program is being plagued with a lack of markets and falling prices for recyclable materials.

Municipalities, meanwhile, are seeing their costs for operating the program escalate as provincial subsidies are gradually rolled back.

Blue Box critics say the taxpayer simply cannot afford to pay for the program's continued operation, and many are calling for an overhaul of the financing system.

Kingston Mayor Helen Cooper, president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), says her organization has written extensively to Environment Minister Ruth Grier on the subject.

"I have very strong feelings about the financing system," Cooper says. "The producers of the wastes should be contributing more."

Cooper states that the province has spent more on promoting recycling than it has on waste reduction and re-use.

"It (recycling) swamps every other initiative," she says.

Economist advises hiking fees for garbage disposal

Pollution Probe researcher Ellen Schwartzel agrees with Cooper. She believes the cost of recycling should be shifted from taxpayers to manufacturers of consumer products to discourage the use of excessive disposable packaging.

Schwartzel reports that the Ministry of Environment is developing a shared model that will make manufacturers more accountable for the waste they produce.

A benefit of the program will be incentives to reduce and re-use waste.

However, Francesco Galassi, an economist at Nipissing University College in North Bay, argues that the solution proposed by Cooper and Schwartzel would lead to lengthy political and legal wrangling between the province and consumer goods manufacturers.

Instead, Galassi favors measures which would force consumers to control the amount of waste produced in the home.

The problem with the blue box program, he explains, is that most homeowners believe they are solving the garbage crisis by participating in the program.

"I think we should hit them in the pocketbook by discouraging disposable containers," he says.

In other words, Galassi believes consumers should be forced to pay more to throw things away, forcing them to buy fewer products which have disposable and bulky packaging.

He favors a system used overseas in Madrid, Spain and Auckland, New Zealand. These cities require consumers to dispose of waste in a specific type of bag, or a regular bag that bears a special sticker. The catch is, the special bags (or stickers) cost anywhere from $1 to $5 each.
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Title Annotation:Energy/Environment Report; Ontario
Author:Pearsall, Kathryn
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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