Province outlines plans to make producers responsible for waste they create

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MINDEMOYA – The climate change co-ordinator for both the Municipality of Central Manitoulin and the Township of Billings says that an Ontario government announcement concerning a more effective blue box program to increase recycling in more communities and help divert more waste from landfills is good news. 

“I think it will be good news, it is about standardizing the program and recycling across the province,” said Kim Neale, when contacted by the Recorder on Monday. “By 2026 the same standards will be in place everywhere in the province and the costs will be shifted from municipalities to the producers of these products.” 

Ms. Neale pointed out “the provincial estimate is that municipalities will save $135 million a year, with companies who produce products being responsible for these recyclables.”

Ontario kicked off waste reduction week Monday by unveiling regulations to improve the blue box program. The enhancements include expanding the items that can be recycled and making producers of products and packaging fully responsible for the waste they create.

“We’re creating a stronger and more effective blue box program that actually works,” said Minister Jeff Yurek in announcing the program. “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.” 

The proposed new blue box regulation will standardize and increase the list of materials accepted in the blue box including paper and plastic cups, wraps, foils, trays and bags and other single use items such as stir sticks, straws, cutlery and plates. The cost of the program will be transitioned from municipal taxpayers by making the producers of products and packaging fully responsible for costs, resulting in an estimated savings of $135 million annually for municipalities; expand blue box services to more communities, such as smaller, rural and remote communities, including those under 5,000 people; and set the highest diversion targets in North America for the various categories of waste producers are expected to recycle. Those include paper, glass, beverage containers and rigid and flexible plastic and encourage innovation such as better product design and the use of new technologies for better environmental outcomes.

“The Ontario Waste Management Association supports the Ontario government’s commitment to strengthen the blue box recycling program and set some of the highest waste diversion targets in North America. Shifting funding responsibility of the blue box to producers will create a catalyst to improve Ontario’s recycling performance,” said Mike Chopowick, CEO of OWMA. “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.” 

President of the Canadian Beverage Association (CBA) Jim Goetz said, “CBA welcomes the government’s proposed beverage container diversion targets of 75 percent by 2026 and 80 percent by 2030. Our sector plans to build on the success of the blue box collection system and meet these targets by introducing a new, comprehensive beverage container recycling program with convenient public space recycling at parks, public buildings and special events.”

The draft blue box regulations will be posted for 45 days for public feedback, ending December 2.