Whether it was your morning paper or a can of pop, it's likely you put something in your blue box today. Thank you -- together, as Ontarians, we have embraced the blue box and are now recycling 67 per cent of our packaging and printed materials.
But unfortunately, Ontario still produces too much garbage. The province's overall waste diversion rate of 23 per cent is unacceptably low and well below established targets. Canadians produce more garbage per person than any country in the developed world.
None of us want a dump in our backyard. Nor do we want to burn money by wasting resources. Sadly this is the direction Ontario is headed if we don't eliminate waste and use resources more efficiently.
Last week I spoke to the Recycling Council of Ontario. My message was that Ontario is missing an opportunity to improve our economy and environment by failing to reduce waste.
Eliminating waste is important to our economic prosperity. It's simply too expensive to waste resources when resource prices are rising. This is unlikely to change in a world with a rapidly growing population placing more demand on a finite amount of natural resources.
Plus waste diversion generates green jobs. For every 1,000 tonnes of waste we throw into a dump, we create one job. But if we take that same 1,000 tonnes of waste and divert it -- by reusing or recycling -- we create seven jobs.
Ontario desperately needs a zero waste strategy to save money and generate jobs. Right now, Ontario has a flawed cost structure that makes dumping garbage less expensive than reusing and recycling. We can fix this by creating incentives for businesses to eliminate waste in the first place.
Right now we, as taxpayers, pay for the disposal of packaging, disposable products and hazardous materials. By shifting the cost of waste from property taxpayers onto industry, we can create a clear profit incentive for businesses to eliminate waste. Our entrepreneurs will have a market incentive to produce less wasteful products and offer services to reuse, repair and recycle.
The Liberal government's inaction on waste is costing Ontario money and jobs. It is a threat to our environment and the health of our communities.
We can do better in Ontario. The success of the blue box program shows that people will embrace environmental programs that are easy to use and provide the right incentives to work.