There are many definitions of a “circular economy” but most are similar. Here is one: “A circular economy is an economic system of closed loops in which raw materials, components and products lose their value as little as possible, renewable energy sources are used and systems thinking is at the core.” Former Governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, Mark Carney is a big fan of the circular economy and will bring his beliefs to the UN where he will be a Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance.
If one pays attention to the activities at Queen’s Park it seems as if each day Premier Ford’s government puts out a press release that seeks to win the support of voters whose ballot choices in the last election were for the opposition parties. The other day it was about changes to the “Blue Box” program and today it’s about how they are “Taking Action to Reduce Electronic Waste”.
Needless to say, the objectives of both programs appear to be an attempt to virtue signal those who believe the world will end from human waste and all the things we are reputedly doing to consume, either the necessities of life such as food (safely protected by plastic) or energy (it must be renewable).
The latest objective is those nasty “electronic” things like, smart phones, televisions, computers, tablets etc. In the interim due to the pandemic we are told to self-isolate; use “Zoom” to connect with friends, family and work and our children use computers or tablets to gain their education remotely.
One of the common themes in the press releases is that the “producers” will pay up as if to suggest we consumers (us lowly voters) won’t have to pick up the costs. If one believes that, your ignorant of the obvious—producers and/or importers of the products we consume will simply raise their prices making everything we buy more expensive. Presently those producers pay municipalities a portion of the costs (approximately $125 million annually) associated with the Blue Box program but that will more than double and supplement the municipal tax base. We shouldn’t expect to see our realty taxes decline however as those municipalities will surely find other ways to spend that money.
The previous McGuinty/Wynne led Liberal governments did the same thing except they pushed the “GW” (global warming), theory signing wind and solar contracts because they would save us from GW. They told us (George Smitherman when Minister of Energy) our electricity rates would only increase 1%. We all know how that turned out as electricity rates more than doubled and Ontario lost numerous jobs as businesses moved to other locations due to rate increases.
Those wind and solar contracts the Liberals signed up will be here for as much as another 10 years. At the time the contracts expire or they no longer can produce any electricity they will have to be classified as “waste”! Those wind turbines and their fiberglass blades (each blade weighing as much as 30 tonnes) will need disposal as they are not currently recyclable! The other question is what happens to the 30/50,000 tonnes of cement supporting each of those turbines throughout the province? The 2,600 MW of solar panels positioned on rooftops or in farmer’s fields will also require disposal so, is that cost as well as the cost of recycling those end-of-life wind turbines going to result in another future press release telling us our politicians are “taking action”?
While wind turbines may have some recyclable parts, it doesn’t include those blades nor does it include that cement. In the case of solar panels an article out of Australia carried the following message about them: “The cost of recycling is higher than landfill, and the value of recovered materials is smaller than the original, so there’s limited interest in recycling. But given the presence of heavy metals, such as lead and tin, if waste is managed poorly, we’re on track for another recycling crisis.”
So, Ontarians should expect lots more waste and further costs from those wind turbines and solar panels even though Ontario’s Auditor General in late 2015 reported “Ontarians have paid $37-billion more than market price for electricity over eight years and will pay another $133-billion extra by 2032 as a result of haphazard planning and political meddling, a report from the Auditor-General says.”
The question becomes will the “producer” of those wind turbines and solar panels simply walk away from those contracts and will Ontario’s taxpayers be obligated to pick up the costs of recycling them when they become waste? While some of the wind contracts originally handed out required the contract parties to guarantee to remove them it’s unclear the guarantee covers recycling costs. The other issue surrounding many of them is that the original parties sold them to many public sector pension funds so will the onus to recycle them or pay fees fall on them? If yes on the latter point, the public sector employees will look to taxpayers to supplement any shortages in their pensions.
It seems apparent Ontario’s Premier, Doug Ford is smitten by the gobbledegook of both our Prime Minister who believes, budgets will balance themselves and those like Mark Carney. In Carney’s case he believes all things can be recycled to avoid creating waste and is hellbent on converting us from prior economic theory that has created wealth in many parts of the world, reduced poverty levels and improved life and lifespans for billions of humans.
These are scary times and not due to Covid-19 but to those political experiments that are taking place here in Ontario and around the world.
That circular economy in the eyes of our politicians, may make them believe they are draining the swamp but instead they are creating one that will drown us in debt!
NB: Well today’s Press Release confirms Premier Ford is sold on the “Circular Economy” concept! He handed Pollution Probe $375,000 of Ontario taxpayer dollars so they can scoop plastic from the Great Lakes. Pollution Probe are a charity and their 2019 financial filings with the CRA indicate they received $4,190 from “Provincial Governments” so they must be delighted they were able to lobby this government for so much more. According to the Ontario Lobbyist Registry they are not even registered.
Pollution Probe are big fans of the Circular Economy concept as their website clearly states:
“Pollution Probe works across sectors to engage stakeholders and develop practical pathways towards a circular economy in order to cut down on waste and maximize both environmental and economic benefits“
Now it appears Ford and his Minister of the Environment Jeff Yurek don’t understand that the Great Lakes are not all Ontario’s responsibility. Eight (8) U.S. States border the Great Lakes along with Ontario but one presumes the taxpayers located in those U.S. States are not being asked to contribute to this cleanup. The Ford led provincial government are throwing money around much like our Federal Government and it is evident they believe in the same Circular Economy that our Prime Minister does.