Ontario is shifting from a linear to a circular economy. In a linear economy, natural resources are extracted, manufactured into products, consumed and then thrown away. In a circular economy, products and packaging are designed to minimize waste and then be recovered, reused, recycled and reintegrated back into production.
Individual producer responsibility
A key driver of the circular economy is individual producer responsibility (IPR). IPR means that producers are responsible and accountable for collecting and managing their products and packaging after consumers have finished using them.
The Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 (RRCEA) outlines a framework for IPR in the province and the Ontario Government is responsible for designating materials for transition to IPR. Tires were the first material to move to IPR on January 1, 2019. Information technology, telecommunications and audio-visual (ITT/AV) equipment transitioned to IPR in January 2021 and lighting equipment will transition January 1, 2023. Hazardous or special waste will move to IPR in July 2021, except for single-use batteries which transitioned in July 2020.
The RRCEA also established the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority to regulate businesses and ensure their compliance with IPR requirements. IPR requires producers of products and packaging to meet mandatory and enforceable targets for the collection and recycling of their products and packaging.
With IPR, producers have choice in how they meet their requirements. They can collect and recycle products and packaging themselves, or contract with producer responsibility organizations (PROs) to help them meet their requirements.
Producers must register with the Authority and report on their progress towards meeting these targets. The Authority can conduct inspections, issue compliance orders and, if necessary, prosecute businesses that don’t follow the law.
To learn more about Ontario’s new framework, watch highlights from our IPR 101 workshop.