Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Do What You Can

Everybody’s got one. It’s that pile of old paint cans, dead batteries and used motor oil that you can’t throw out with the garbage. So it just sits in the basement, attic or garage until you can figure out a time to haul it up to a hazardous waste dump near you.

The problem is, most facilities aren’t exactly located on the beaten path, and hours of operation are remarkably similar to the average workday. Since taking time off from work to get to the dump isn’t exactly an option for most, the pile continues to grow.

Enter Ontario’s Do What You Can Program. The new $ 28 million dollar program was officially launched last week, and it’s aimed at finding a convenient way for consumers to responsibly dispose of their household hazardous waste (known as Municipal Hazardous and Special Waste or MHSW). The goal is divert more than 32,000 tonnes of MHSW from the province’s landfills over the next five years, doubling the 16,000 tonnes that is currently collected.

The Program is being introduced in three phases. Phase 1 includes antifreeze, fertilizer, lubricating oil (30 liters or less), paints and coatings, pesticides, pressurized gas and propane containers, solvents and used oil filters. Phase 1 will also include single use dry cell batteries.

Phase 2 and 3 will include all other batteries (with the exception of lead batteries from vehicles), as well as aerosol containers, portable fire extinguishers, fluorescent light bulbs and tubes, switches, thermostats and other devices containing mercury, pharmaceuticals and syringes.

The good news is that the program won’t cost taxpayers a cent. Funding is being provided by Stewardship Ontario (SO), an industry association that will also be responsible for coordinating the new program. Stewardship Ontario gets the money to fund the program from the owners and importers of the products listed as MHSW. An agreed upon formula calculates what each company must contributed, based on each identified product.

The MHSW program is just one of many programs that have been established by Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) a crown corporation that was created under the Waste Diversion Act in 2002. The WDO’s mandate is to develop, implement and operate waste diversion programs for a wide range of materials. Key to the WDO’s programs is industry accountability. For example, the WDO’s Blue Box program, which is also administered by Stewardship Ontario, requires that industries that contribute materials into the blue box pay 50 percent of the net cost of recycling.

Thanks to this newest program, Do What You Can, consumers will be able to drop off some of their MHSW, such as paint and single-use batteries at major retailers such as The Home Depot and Rona.

The program is a natural for Rona, a company that participated in setting up Canada’s first paint recovery and recycling company, Boomerang Paint, ten years ago. Since last July, Rona has diverted an estimated 600,000 pounds (approximately 275 metric tonnes) of used paint from Ontario’s landfills.

To coincide with last week’s launch, Jiffy Lube Auto Centres began accepting used oil filters, empty auto oil bottles, and antifreeze containers.

Stewardship Ontario will be responsible for picking up collected materials from retail partners and municipalities that collect MHSW through event days and permanent depots. The first priority will be to reuse or recycle materials. For materials that can’t be recovered, Stewardship Ontario will handle their disposal in an environmentally appropriate manner.

Stewardship Ontario will also be assisting municipalities to expand special event collection days, helping to make it more convenient to dispose of materials. Thanks to the program, Ontario municipalities will add an additional 6,000 days of service, through expanded hours at collection depots and special event days.

“We all have household products that can harm the environment if they are not disposed of properly,” said Peter Hume, President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. “It’s up to all of us to do what we can to make sure that old paint, chemical solvents and used batteries aren’t sent to municipal landfills or poured down drains. All we are asking is that you help by doing what you can.”


It’s simple. Visit dowhatyoucan.ca. Choose the material that you want to recycle from the drop down menu, enter your postal code or community, and preferred distance from your home. The website also has some good tips under the heading Sensible Cautions for how to extend the life of paint, manage solvents, as well as store and dispose of other hazardous materials.

Boomerang products are made from unused portions of recovered domestic paint and stain remains. 1 percent of new material is added in order to provide adequate and consistent luster levels, viscosity and drying time.

Stewardship Ontario

Waste Diversion Ontario


Blogger Barry said...

That is, of course, excellent news. To get rid of paint cans in the past, I have literally had to take a Wednesday afternoon off work and drive to the out of the way recycling station which would only accept hazardous waste during certain proscribed hours on certain proscribed days.

This is a very welcome change.

February 09, 2009 1:15 PM  

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