- New legislation has passed, called the Waste-Free Ontario Act, which aims to put the Canadian province on the path toward a "zero waste future" and reduce landfill use.
- The legislation outlines a number of plans such as shifting the cost of municipal recycling away from taxpayers to producers, making recycling more convenient, and encouraging new talent and innovation in the waste industry.
- The current Waste Diversion Ontario organization will become the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority, an oversight body with increased enforcement powers. Details will be finalized in Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy, currently in draft form, within three months of the legislation taking effect.
Ontario has seen the amount of waste sent to its landfills increase and currently disposes of 8 million metric tons per year. Greenhouse gas emissions from waste have also risen by 25% between 1990 and 2012. The province estimates that without a serious change, its landfills could run out of space within the next 20 years.
Recycling is available to nearly every resident, but Ontario's 25% diversion rate has been stuck. The province has seen success with paper diversion and has made organics collection available to roughly half of residents. While positive, this still leaves many opportunities if Ontario wants to follow a growing number of cities and countries on the path toward zero waste.
Nationally, Canada has lagged behind other developed countries on recycling as well. From 2000 to 2010 the residential diversion rate increased from 23% to 33%, though the business and government diversion rate was only 24.5% in 2010. These numbers are similar to the U.S., but lag far behind the 55% diversion rate of world leaders such as Taiwan. An estimated $1 billion in resources is sent to landfills in Canada every year so any progress that Ontario can make will be helpful.