TORONTO-Canada's two national packaging reduction and recycling proposals are threatened by government cutbacks and squabbles. The National Packaging Protocol will lack federal leadership this spring because of drastic cutbacks in the federal ministry Environment Canada. NAPP, formed in 1990, has as its chief goal the reduction of packaging waste by 50 percent by the year 2000.
Federal officials have chaired and coordinated the NAPP task force and have worked to keep the country's ten provinces focused on packaging reduction goals, said Larry Dworkin, spokesman for the Packaging Association of Canada of Toronto.
Meanwhile, a proposal for industry-led packaging stewardship and recycling is getting lukewarm reception in most provinces. In Ontario, Canada's most populous province, municipalities are balking at the Canadian Industry Packaging Stewardship Initiative introduced last summer.
NAPP leadership is threatened by decimation of the ranks of the solid waste management division of Environment Canada following the introduction of Canada's budget on Feb. 27.
``We were told to get out of certain areas,'' said Steve Cross, a federal NAPP advisor. ``It was felt by the feds that [other NAPP task force members] should pick up the slack.''
Dworkin said packaging firms fear lack of federal leadership in NAPP could lead to a checkerboard of conflicting provincial regulations.
``This will seriously impact our operating costs and our competitive situation,'' PAC President Alan Robinson told association members in a newsletter.
Cross said federal leadership of NAPP officially ends April 1 but federal officials will help in a transition to a rotating leadership among provincial ministers of environment.
An Ontario official said he doubted NAPP will degenerate into interprovincial rivalries.
``Provinces have their differences, but they realize the importance and benefits of moving nationally,'' said Adam Ciulini, a supervisor in Ontario's Ministry of Environment waste reduction branch and an Ontario member of the NAPP task force.
``We are keen to proceed, but how [NAPP] will proceed, we don't know,'' Ciulini said in a telephone interview in Toronto.
NAPP has exceeded its first target of reducing packaging waste in 1992 by 20 percent relative to 1988. In 1992, 4.6 million tons of packaging were landfilled, about 21 percent less than in 1988, the NAPP task force estimated. In 1996, NAPP targets diversion of 35 percent of packaging waste from landfills.
Progress on CIPSI, meanwhile, has been ``disappointing,'' said Sandra Birkenmayer, president of the Environment and Plastics Institute of Canada.
``We feel it is a very sound proposal,'' Birkenmeyer said from EPIC's office in Don Mills, Ontario. ``It is the most cost-effective of those we looked at.''
Under CIPSI, Canadian industry proposes to boost its funding for curbside collection and recycling of post-consumer packag-ing. Funding would be directed to help municipalities develop markets and efficient recycling programs. Long-term funding levels would be based on formulas for efficient recycling. Inefficient municipalities would pick up some of the recycling costs.
Ontario municipalities are balking at CIPSI partly because the proposal doesn't include newsprint and other wood fiber recyclables.
``We agree with the stewardship approach but we want to see it for all the contents of the Blue Box [curbside recycling program],'' said Terry Mundell, vice president for the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
Mundell said a CIPSI approach would only make business and administrative sense if it goes beyond packaging materials.
Mundell also said municipalities do not want to pay for recycling out of their tax base. AMO proposes bridge financing for recycling by the Ontario government until municipalities can design efficient systems that do not rely on municipal tax dollars.
An Ontario spokeswoman said the province has been extending funding for recycling programs but it has made no decision on long-term bridge financing.
``Our original funding was for five years to help municipal startups, to cover costs not met by [recycling revenues],'' said Kathy Clarke, senior policy advisor with Ontario's Ministry of Environment waste reduction branch. Last year Ontario's government covered about 35 percent of the province's recycling costs, she estimated.
The total annual cost has been about C$86 million (US$61.1 mil-lion).
Ontario also is trying to get the paper industry involved in stewardship, Clarke said. She said the province plans talks with the Ontario Printing Papers Users Group but has set no timetable for discussions.
Some industry officials said an impending Ontario election this year may stall CIPSI negotiations in the province.
CIPSI's progress in other provinces is, at best, at various stages of government and industry consultation.
Manitoba is one province, however, that decided to bypass industry stewardship and ``is not moving in the right direction,'' according to Katheryn Rowan, regional vice president for the Grocery Products Manufacturers of Canada.
On Jan. 1, Manitoba instituted a 2 cent levy on all beverage containers not covered in the province's deposit and return system. It expects the levy system to raise about C$5 million (US$3.6 million) annually as a fund for packaging stewardship.
In the next phase, Manitoba's government proposes per-ton levies on all packaging, including bread bags and meat trays, and disposable publications such as newspapers, said Jim Leishman, a sales manager for Coca-Cola Bottling Ltd. in Winnipeg.
Manitoba's environment ministry ``felt better with ultimate government control,'' he said.
British Columbia's government is also reluctant to turn packaging stewardship over to industry, according to Dan Wong, manager of corporate relations for Dairy World Foods in Vancouver.
``They acknowledge the CIPSI model, but think stewardship should be government-driven,'' said Wong.
British Columbia is considering a combined approach of expanding curbside collection while continuing the current deposit system for plastic and other beverage containers. Such containers, however, are a key revenue-generating component of CIPSI-type curbside programs.
``CIPSI would like these containers because they are valuable,'' said Dairy World Food's Wong. Diverting them from CIPSI ``would undercut a comprehensive packaging program.''