The regulatory framework affecting waste management is complex and multi-jurisdictional. Waste and waste diversion is controlled by regulations from all three levels of government, however waste management is primarily regulated at the provincial level.


Government of Canada


The federal government deals with the larger scale issues, which are more national in scope. Environment Canada has regulations in place that mandate which substances and components can and cannot be used in products. It, in partnership with Transport Canada, also has the responsibility of monitoring and dictating how wastes are transported between provincial and national borders. The relevant federal legislation pertaining to waste management at the federal level includes:


·         Canadian Environmental Protection Act;

·         Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act; and

·         Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.


 Province of Ontario


The provincial government develops, implements and maintains a regulatory framework for the management of hazardous and non-hazardous waste, including requirements to minimise waste by reducing, reusing, recycling, composting and recovering resources. It achieves this through regulating and controlling the collection, transfer, processing, and disposal. It issues approvals to waste disposal sites and waste haulers to ensure appropriate management; and undertakes inspections and enforcement activities. It also sets out the mandatory requirements for municipalities regarding the provision of waste management services.


The province does not track the amount of waste generated in the province, where or how it is processed, or plan for its long-term management.  Rather, it focuses its efforts on the review, approval, and monitoring of all waste facilities; on regulating source separation amongst large-scale generators; and on designing systems to deal with problematic wastes (e.g. tires and waste electronics).


Members of the IC&I sector are individually responsible for complying with waste related regulations and their compliance is determined by their size. The recent introduction of stewardship and/or extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations has extended the traditional responsibilities of many IC&I businesses. IC&I businesses that are producers of product and/or packaging are increasingly mandated to take physical and/or financial responsibility for the wastes that their products and or packaging create. (Source RCO website September 2011)


The Environmental Protection Act, the Waste Diversion Act and their associated Regulations are the primary legislative instruments governing the management of waste in Ontario, with the Environmental Assessment Act and Planning Act also playing a role in the waste management. Relevant regulations under the Environmental Protection Act include:


·         Ontario Regulation 101/94 (Recycling and Composting of Municipal Waste);

·         Ontario Regulation 102/94 (Waste Audits and Waste Reduction Work Plans);

·         Ontario Regulation 103/94 (Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Source Separation Program);

·         Ontario Regulation 104/94 (Packaging Audits and Packaging Reduction); and

·         Ontario Regulation 347 (General— Waste Management).



Waste Diversion Act


Ontario's Waste Diversion Act was passed in 2002 to promote reducing, reusing and recycling waste. Under the Act, certain wastes are considered designated waste materials for which diversion programs are required, with programs currently in place for:

·         Blue and Black Box materials;

·         Used tires;

·         Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE); and  

·         Municipal hazardous or special waste. 


The primary emphasis is on diversion programs under the Act. Other activities include regulatory initiatives, such as the 3Rs Regulation and exemptions under Regulation 347 (general waste regulation) intended to recognize and promote diversion activities. The 3Rs Regulations are designed to ensure that the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (IC&I) sector, as well as municipalities, develop programs to reduce the amount of valuable resources going to disposal. The Act also details the enforcement provisions and penalties for non-compliance.  


Blue Box Wastes were designated under the Waste Diversion Act by regulation O. Reg. 273/02 on September 23, 2002. The regulation defines Blue Box Wastes as any of the following materials, or any combination of glass, metal, paper, plastic and textile.


Proposed changes to Ontario’s Waste Diversion Act


Management of  waste in the province and the roles and responsibilities of municipalities could change significantly if proposed changes to the Waste Diversion Act are adopted.  However, the Minister’s Report on the Waste Diversion Act 2002 Review [1] acknowledges that such changes will not occur in a short period of time, and recognizes the “long history of shared responsibility” and the need “to ensure minimal disruption of services so that desired diversion objectives continue to be achieved.”


Responsibility for a healthy transition will rest as much with municipalities as it will with individual waste producers and collective management schemes.  Accordingly, there is a window of opportunity for municipalities like Ottawa to prepare for and take a lead in directing how those changes may be implemented in their jurisdictions.


To this end, consideration must be given to how materials may be recovered not just from the residential waste stream, but also the IC&I sector as the province proposes to start “with materials with known markets (e.g. blue box materials in IC&I sectors.)”  With larger volumes of materials being recovered, structural and behavioural barriers to the recovery of some residentially-generated materials may be reduced, and opportunities for streamlined collection and processing may result.


Furthermore, the City must consider how increased diversion may affect vehicular traffic, on-site storage requirements, and residuals management in the city.


In 2007, the province issued a draft Policy Statement on Waste Management Planning that provides guidelines for developing a Municipal Waste Management Plan. This policy proposal is currently on hold.


Municipal Governments


Although residential waste management and recycling services are mandated by the provincial government, they are carried out by local municipalities and include the collection, transfer, diversion, and disposal of residential waste. In carrying out these responsibilities, municipal governments must ensure that there is sufficient long term capacity to process and dispose of residential waste, which can include the siting or contracting of landfills or other disposal capacity as well as development and operation of recycling, composting and other diversion programs.


The City has developed the following key documents that guide the planning and management of waste, including:


·         City of Ottawa Act

·         Official Plan

·         Term of Council Strategic Priorities 2011-2014


·         Choosing Our Future

·         Environmental Strategy

·         Solid Waste By-law






[1] a.k.a.From Waste to Worth:  The Role of Waste Diversion in the Green Economy. MOE, 2009.