News | August 21, 2019

Ontario Announces Next Steps To Improve Recycling And Tackle Plastic Waste

Improving the Blue Box Program Will Save Taxpayers Money and Help Divert More Waste from Landfills

Ontario is taking action to improve recycling across the province and address the serious problem of plastic pollution and litter, as committed to in our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.

Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, were at Canada Fibers today to announce the next steps to transition 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 is moving forward immediately by issuing direction to Stewardship Ontario outlining the next steps and timelines to transitioning 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.

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 provincewide.

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 mediation sessions, to continue thorough consultations and facilitate the Blue Box Program's transition to producer responsibility.

The Blue Box Program will continue to be convenient and accessible for the people of Ontario. 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.

Reducing plastic waste and litter and making producers responsible for the end-of-life management of their products is a key part of the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plancommitment to balance a healthy economy and a healthy environment and keep our province clean and beautiful.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario’s recycling rates have been stalled for 15 years and up to 30 per cent of what is put into the blue box is sent to landfill.
  • There are over 240 municipal blue box programs that have their own separate lists of accepted recyclable materials, which affects cost savings and contamination.
  • In June, Ontario engaged David Lindsay as a Special Advisor on Recycling and Plastic Waste to help address plastic litter and improve recycling in the province.
  • For six weeks, Mr. Lindsay held mediation sessions with municipal and industry stakeholders, and in July delivered his report on how Ontario can better manage recycling and plastic waste.
  • Stewardship Ontario, which manages the current Blue Box Program, will submit a plan to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority by June 30, 2020.
  • The Blue Box Program will begin preparing for transition once the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority approves the plan, no later than December 31, 2020.

SOURCE: Ontario