Ontario is making changes to recycling across the province to address the serious problem of litter and plastic pollution as part of the government’s ‘Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan’.
Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing recently announced the next steps to shift the costs of the Blue Box Program away from municipal taxpayers and make the producers of products and packaging fully responsible.
“Transitioning the Blue Box Program to full producer responsibility will promote innovation and increase Ontario’s recycling rates while saving taxpayers money,” said Minister Yurek. “This shift is a big step towards diverting waste, addressing plastic pollution and creating a new recycling economy that everyone can be proud of in Ontario.”
Ontario has issued direction to Stewardship Ontario outlining the next steps and timelines to transition the program to producer responsibility starting in 2023. Over the coming year, Ontario will develop and consult on regulations to support the new producer responsibility framework for the Blue Box Program. Once producer responsibility is fully in place, recycling across the province will be more consistent, with a standard list of materials that can be recycled.
“We know that and communities in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound and throughout Ontario have been doing their part to reduce and divert waste from landfills and keep our province clean and free of litter,” said MPP Bill Walker. “We also know that this transition is needed to improve our province’s overall waste diversion rate and reduce waste going to landfills.”
Based on recommendations from Special Advisor David Lindsay’s report on Recycling and Plastic Waste, the Blue Box Program will transition to producer responsibility in phases over a three-year period. This approach will provide time to consult with the public, stakeholders and Indigenous communities, while providing certainty for municipalities and adequate time for producers to engage service providers. The first group of municipalities or First Nations will transfer responsibility of their programs to producers starting January 1, 2023. By December 31, 2025, producers will be fully responsible for providing Blue Box services province-wide.
Starting this fall, Ontario will begin early engagement with a broad range of stakeholders, including the municipal and industry stakeholder working group that took part in Mr. Lindsay’s previous consultation session, to continue thorough consultations and facilitate the Blue Box Program’s transition to producer responsibility.
“I’m happy to see our government is going to make reducing waste easier by creating a standard list of materials that can be recycled in blue boxes across the province. We’re going to save taxpayers money, with municipalities no longer responsible for funding Blue Box programs,” said Walker.
Residents who currently receive municipal blue box services will continue to receive the same services throughout the transition period. Once producers are fully responsible for the program, Ontarians will experience the same or improved access to Blue Box services across the province.