The Ontario government has unveiled a new blue box plan that makes consumer goods producers responsible for the waste created by their products placed in blue boxes and in turn saves municipalities $135 million per year.
If implemented, the plan would replace the current blue box system. The goal is to ensure producers take on the financial and operational responsibility for the waste management of products they sell to Ontarians.
“Shifting funding responsibility of the Blue Box to producers will create a catalyst to improve Ontario’s recycling performance. This is not only good for the environment, it is good for the economy, and will encourage investment, job creation and innovation in the recycling and resource recovery sector,” said Mike Chopowick, CEO of Ontario Waste Management Association.
The new proposed regulations, if passed, will:
- Standardize and increase the list of materials accepted in the blue box.
- Transition the costs of the program away from municipal taxpayers by making the producers of products and packaging fully responsible for costs. This has an estimated savings of $135 million annually for municipalities.
- Expand blue box services to more communities, such as smaller, rural, and remote communities.
- Set the highest diversion targets in North America for the various categories of waste producers are expected to recycle such as paper, glass, beverage containers, and rigid and flexible plastic. This will hopefully encourage innovation such as better product design and the use of new technologies for better environmental outcomes.
- Expand blue box services to facilities such as apartment buildings, long-term care homes, schools, and municipal parks in 2026. This will provide Ontarians with more opportunities to recycle in the community.
“By harnessing the innovation and ingenuity of industry and expanding recycling opportunities for people and businesses across the province, we can divert more waste away from landfills by finding new purposes for products and reinserting them back into the economy,” said Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks in Ontario in a release.
The initiative is part of the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, which the government said is designed to to ensure a healthy, clean economy and environment in Ontario.
A draft of the Blue Box regulations will be available for viewing and public feedback until Dec. 2.
The changes come as Waste Reduction Week begins in the province. This a yearly campaign across Canada meant to raise awareness and encourage ideas and solutions to support a circular economy, resource efficiency, and waste reduction. Learn more here.