August 2019
Province Moving Forward with Blue Box Program Reform

2019-08-15 1:19:07 PM

Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, today announced that the current provincial Blue Box Program will be significantly reformed based on the recommendations from Special Advisor David Lindsay’s report on Recycling and Plastic Waste.

In line with the proposed timelines in Mr. Lindsay’s report, the initial responsibility of the Blue Box Program will shift from municipalities to producers of printed paper and packaging beginning in January 1, 2023. It is expected that producers will assume full responsibility by December 31, 2025.  

The government says the province will engage with stakeholders to continue consultations, facilitate the transition, and develop regulations supporting the new framework in the Fall.

As it stands now, municipalities with populations of over 4,000 are responsible for blue box programs with each municipality using their own list of accepted recyclable materials. Due to difference n lists among municipalities, there is often confusion as to what materials go in blue bins results, which can lead to high contamination levels. Toronto, for example, had a 26% contamination level in 2018. Diverting non-recyclable material or garbage from recycling centers to landfills creates unnecessary costs as the contaminated materials are processed to only be sent to landfills.

Shifting responsibility to producers will allow for a single consistent and standardized list of recyclable materials thereby saving costs and reducing waste. The framework will also incentivize producers to develop more recyclable materials for their products.

While environmental groups welcome the reform, they also note that producer compliance may be difficult as targets may not be high enough to create sustainable and meaningful change for the environment. It is argued that diversion targets should be as high as 90% compared to a 50% target rate British Columbia currently enforces. Targets for Ontario's recylcing program have yet to be determined and will be defined in regulations.  

According to the government, it is estimated that municipalities would save between $125-$175 million annually, based on 2017 costs, with this new system.

For details on how the recycling reforms may impact your municipality, click here

For more information, please see below:

Ontario Newsroom: Ontario Announces Next Steps to Improve Recycling and Tackle Plastic Waste

AMCTO: Special Advisor Submits Report to Minister to Reform Ontario's Recycling Program

AMCTO: Ontario Government Looking to Change Recycling Program

Special Advisor’s Report: Renewing the Blue Box: Final report on the blue box mediation process

CBC News: Many Canadians are recycling wrong, and its costing us millions


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