Ontario has finalized its plans to overhaul the blue box recycling program. The province says it will expand service to more communities, standardize the list of materials that can be recycled and save municipalities money by making producers of products and packaging fully responsible for the cost and operation of the program.
“Producers and municipalities have been advocating for an enhanced, producer-led Blue Box program for over a decade,” said Environment Minister Jeff Yurek. “That’s why we are creating a stronger and more effective blue box service that will have some of the highest waste diversion targets in North America to promote greater innovations in recycling technologies and increased use of recycled materials.”
The enhanced Blue Box program will accept common single-use and packaging-like products such as paper and plastic cups, foils, trays, bags and boxes sold for home use. It will also collect single-use items that are distributed or sold to consume food and beverage products, like stir sticks, straws, cutlery and plates. ;
Expanding services will cover Northern areas as well as more facilities such as apartment buildings, municipally run or non-profit long-term care homes and retirement homes, and schools. The province is also expanding collection to more parks, playgrounds, and transit stations, more than tripling the number of public space recycling bins funded under the current program so there are more opportunities to recycle at home and on the go.
The changes to the program will also transition the costs of the Blue Box program away from municipal taxpayers by making the producers of products and packaging fully responsible for managing the life-cycle of their products, resulting in an estimated savings of $156 million annually for municipalities.
The transition to the enhanced Blue Box program will be staggered from 2023 to 2025 to ensure a smooth transition for municipalities and producers, so there is no interruption to service for residents. Some of the first municipalities scheduled to adopt the new producer model include Kenora, London, Toronto and the Town of Hawkesbury.