TORONTO — Ontario says it is protecting what matters most by continuing to tackle the serious problem of plastic pollution and litter that is increasingly plaguing our parks, highways, lakes and rivers.

That is why it is launching a Compostable Products Technical Working Group made up of experts from municipalities, industry and the waste management sector to set clear rules for compostable packaging materials in Ontario and to ensure these materials are accepted by existing and emerging green bin programs across the province.

“We know Ontarians want to use more eco-friendly materials and reduce the amount of plastic litter and waste,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “By working with municipalities, product producers and private composting facilities we will build consensus around requirements and set clear rules around compostable products and packaging to ensure they don’t end up in landfills and are accepted in green bin programs.”

The government says that part of the solution to reduce plastic litter and waste in our communities is to encourage producers of products and packaging to innovate and replace items that often become plastic waste, including coffee pods, cutlery, cups and take-out containers.
Compostable products and packaging, such as compostable coffee pods, are one such innovation and are already available in Ontario but are currently not accepted in most municipal green bin programs and are instead often redirected to landfills.

“This action is key to encouraging producers to switch out more plastic products for compostable products,” said Minister Phillips. “We will give the people of Ontario more opportunities to do their part to reduce waste, whether at home, at work or on the go.”
The working group will meet over the summer to bring forth recommendations to the government on setting provincial requirements for compostable products and packaging. Providing clear rules to support compostable products and packaging is a key commitment of the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to tackle plastic litter and waste and keep our province clean and beautiful for current and future generations.

• Ontario’s overall waste diversion rates have stalled for the past 15 years and are currently at 30 per cent.

• There are over 90 municipal green bin programs in Ontario.

• In Ontario, food and organic waste is processed either at composting facilities or at anaerobic digestion facilities. These facilities create valuable end-products such as compost or digestate which are high-quality soil amendments that support healthy soils, promote crop growth and enhance carbon storage.

• Some products labelled as compostable are not actually accepted in Ontario’s many green bin programs for various reasons and are redirected to landfill.

• Last Friday, Ontario engaged David Lindsay as a Special Advisor on Recycling and Plastic Waste. He will report next month on how we can improve recycling, reduce the amount of trash going to landfill and lower plastic pollution while ensuring producers are responsible for their packaging.

• Ontario posted a discussion paper: Reducing Litter and Waste in Our Communities on the Environmental Registry from March 6 to April 20, 2019 and received over 18,000 comments, which are currently being reviewed to inform next steps.

• Read the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan
• Read the Waste Discussion Paper
• Read the Special Advisor on Recycling and Plastic Waste news release