On June 3, 2021, Ontario’s Environment Minister Jeff Yurek released the final and approved regulation overhauling the province’s Blue Box Program. The shift to extended producer responsibility transfers all costs and control over the province’s blue box programs from municipalities to product and packaging producers. Today, producers and municipalities split the annual cost of roughly $300 million for blue box recycling, while municipalities operate the patchwork of 243 programs.
Ontario’s overall waste diversion rate has stalled in recent years, with roughly 70% of Ontario’s waste continuing to end up in landfills. This was a major imperative for the proposed system overhaul.
The regulatory changes also expand residential recycling services to communities across the province (except for the far north), increases products eligible for Blue Box recycling, standardizes what products can go into the blue box provincewide, and requires collection at multi-residential buildings, schools and some long-term care and retirement homes and public spaces.
Minister Yurek was joined at the announcement by his Parliamentary Assistant MPP Andrea Khanjin; Graydon Smith, President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario; Patrick Dovigi, founder and CEO of GFL Environmental Inc.; Mike Chopwick of the Ontario Waste Management Association; and Jim Goetz, President of the Canadian Beverage Association.
The new regulation will be phased-in regionally based on municipality between 2023 and 2025 according to the municipality-by-municipality transition schedule.
It is expected that producers and those in the waste management sector will now start organizing themselves into producer responsibility organizations (PROs) to undertake the significant task of collecting, sorting, and processing the province’s residential recyclable materials. The sector will be regulated by the province’s Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (‘Authority’).
According to the regulation, important dates include:
August 1, 2021 to November 1, 2021 - PROs must register with the Authority;
October 1, 2021 – Deadline for producers to register with the Authority;
January 1, 2022 - Larger PROs may start proposing rules to the Authority;
July 1, 2023 - Producers may start registering alternative collection systems from Blue Box;
January 1, 2026 - Collection in public spaces in eligible communities begins.
Notable changes in the final regulation from the draft regulation posted in Fall 2020 include:
The Ministry of Environment, Conservation & Parks’ official response to the Fall 2020 consultation may be found here.
The new blue box regulation may be found here.
Currently in Canada, only British Columbia has an extended producer responsibility model for residential blue box recycling. However, with Ontario’s shift, calls for other provinces to follow have significantly increased, particularly in Alberta, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
Should you have any questions about Ontario’s new Blue Box regulation, or the expansion of EPR across Canada, please reach out to the Sussex team.
Robyn Gray, Vice President, Environment
David Donovan, Director, Energy & Environment
Christina Marciano, Senior Associate, Environment