As communicated previously, on August 15, 2019, the Ontario Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks issued direction to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) and Stewardship Ontario to begin transitioning the management of Ontario’s Blue Box Program to producers of plastic and other packaging. This will enable the transition of materials collected under the program to individual producer responsibility (EPR) under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act (RRCEA), 2016. The Blue Box Program will transition to the new regulatory framework for resource recovery starting on July 1, 2023 through to December 31, 2025.

On June 3, 2021, the Government of Ontario released the final Blue Box Regulation under the RRCEA requiring producers to establish and operate systems for the collection, recycling and reuse of blue box materials. The new regulation makes individual producers responsible for financing and operating collection services to local communities, managing blue box materials and establishing targets to increase diversion rates.  Visit RPRA’s Blue Box Regulation page for information about the new regulation, including what materials are obligated, regulatory requirements for specific roles (e.g. producer, PRO, processor, municipality, First Nation community), key dates and deadlines, and FAQs.

For municipalities and First Nation communities that currently provide blue box services, producers are responsible for delivering these services starting July 1, 2023 through to December 31, 2025. Specific transition dates for municipalities are outlined in the Transition Schedule. The Transition Schedule will be updated to include First Nation communities after engagement with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has taken place.

Under the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016, the Authority is responsible for overseeing the orderly wind up of current waste diversion programs and the industry funding organizations responsible for managing those programs.

Environment Minister Jeff Yurek said during the June 3rd announcement that the government is moving forward with a plan that has been in development for years to standardize the blue box program across more than 250 municipalities and shift the cost to operate it from communities to waste producers – a move it estimates will save $156 million a year.  Right now, what can be put in blue bins differs city to city.

Yurek says the program will mean additional items will be accepted in blue boxes including plastic cups, foils, trays and bags. Single use items such as stir sticks, straws, cutlery and plates will also be permitted in blue bins under the proposal. The province will also expand blue box services to more smaller and rural communities with populations under 5,000. It is also pledging to expand the service to locations where it is not provided, including apartment buildings, long-term care homes, schools and municipal parks by 2026. Right now, municipalities split the cost of recycling with product producers. Yurek said it was unfair burden on taxpayers to take on the cost of recycling programs.

The new provincial regulation will move to product producers paying for the full amount of recycling their products. “When we looked at creating the blue box program we actually want to make the changes that are going to be effective and actually workable in the real day world,” Yurek said. “Not just what’s thought about on a piece of paper.” Yurek said Ontario’s overall waste diversion rate has stalled and about 70% of recyclable materials continue to end up in landfills. “This will allow more Ontarians to recycle,” he added.

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner praised the initiative for streamlining the province’s recycling program, but said if Ontario wants to tackle the issue of plastic waste it needs to ban single-use plastic bottles and coffee cups. Those items were left off a recent federal list of banned single-use plastics, he said. “My fear is that Premier (Doug Ford) does not understand that our plastic waste problem is reaching a crisis point,” Schreiner said in a statement. “I am worried that plastics will continue to pile up in landfills, parks, and lakes.”

Meanwhile, Stewardship Ontario is reviewing the new regulation to determine what changes may be required to the Blue Box Transition Plan that RPRA approved with conditions in December 2020 following stakeholder consultations. During the transition, Stewardship Ontario will continue to operate the Blue Box Program without disruption. Please continue to contact them directly for any operational inquiries at: werecycle@stewardshipontario.ca.

The CHPTA will continue to keep members updated on news related to the Ontario Blue Box Program Regulations and Transition Plan.

Source: RPRA
Source: Stewardship Ontario
Source: The Canadian Press
Source: CBC