A commercial entity in Ontario requires an MOE (Ministry of The Environment) licence to transport building and construction waste.
You heard right. A business must have an environmental approval from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, if it releases pollutants into the air, land or water OR if it stores, transports or disposes of waste.
Junk removal and recycling is a dirty business. That’s why it’s important to know that there are certifications that good companies will have if they’re doing it right. Even though environmental approvals are required by provincial law, many companies do not go through the process of getting registered or certified. These companies may offer a reduced rate, only to improperly dispose of the waste they pick up or by claiming dishonestly to recycle what they take.
To illustrate our point, we came across this article at iTech Environmental Services, an Ontario based environmental services provider. In 2010, a Sarnia-based company and two individuals were fined $35,000 for the unapproved dumping of demolition rubble. The property owner was fined a total of $5,000 by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment under the Environmental Protection Act after allowing debris to be taken to an unapproved landfill. Furthermore, in 2009, an Owen Sound company was fined a total of $16,000, plus victim fine surcharges, for various charges relating to the hauling and handling of waste without approval. The court heard that the company removed residential development demolition and construction debris and transported it to a non-licensed waste site.
These kinds of cases occur all the time. The whole “you get what you pay for” adage applies to the junk removal and recycling business as well. These kinds of unethical practices undermine the whole industry and ultimately create a situation where you can indirectly be affecting the environment without realizing it. How do you know the company giving you the cheapest price on the haul away of your waste and junk isn’t simply dumping it in a field? Or a river? Or a lake? How do you know they are properly handling the items they are picking up? Illegal waste dumping is becoming an epidemic. The Globe and Mail published a piece about what’s going on out west in the lower mainland. It is the byproduct of a housing boom where the rush is on to make money, get the job done and cut costs. We also touched on this back in 2014, when the CBC published a piece about the concerning trashed state of our woods and forests.
Environmental certifications are standards that the province holds businesses to in the industry. They’re important. When a clear intent exists to avoid expensive disposal and transport costs, the Ministry of Environment can, at its discretion, ask for jail time and huge fines, against not only businesses but also for the directors and principals of a corporation.
Bottom line – you can’t just pick up junk, waste, or debris – transport it somewhere else or illegally dump it – and then charge for the service.