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Ontario government announces changes to blue box recycling program

Ontario is kicking off Waste Reduction Week 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 Environment, Conservation, and Parks Minister Jeff Yurek. “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.
  • Transition the costs of the program away 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.
  • 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, encouraging innovation such as better product design and the use of new technologies for better environmental outcomes.

The province will also expand blue box services to facilities such as apartment buildings, long-term care homes, schools and municipal parks in 2026 to provide the people of Ontario with more opportunities to recycle and keep their communities clean.

The draft Blue Box regulation will be posted for 45 days for public feedback, ending December 2, 2020.

Reducing plastic waste and litter and making producers responsible for managing the full life-cycle of their products is a key part of the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan commitment to balance a healthy economy, a healthy environment and keep Ontario clean and beautiful.