Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark says Ontario is moving to improve recycling across the province to address the serious problem of litter and plastic pollution as part of our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.
MPP Clark, in his capacity as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, joined Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Jeff Yurek, at Canada Fibers 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.
“Our government is supporting municipalities by moving to put accountability for recycling where it belongs – on the companies who make the products,” he said. “Municipalities are the closest level of government to the people and we will take the time to get it right by supporting our municipal partners to make sure future policy reflects local needs and concerns.”
“Transitioning the Blue Box Program to full producer responsibility will promote innovation and increase Ontario’s recycling rates while saving taxpayers money,” said Minister Jeff 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.”
The Ontario government has issued direction to Stewardship Ontario outlining the next steps and timelines to transition 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.
“We know that communities in Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes and throughout Ontario have been doing their part to reduce and divert waste from landfills and keep our province clean and free of litter,” said Minister Clark. “We also know that this transition is needed to improve our province’s overall waste diversion rate and reduce waste going to landfills.”
Based on recommendations from Special Advisor David Lindsay’s reporton 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 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 province-wide.
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 consultation session, to continue thorough consultations and facilitate the Blue Box Program’s transition to producer responsibility.
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.
Ontario’s recycling rates have been stalled for 15 years, and up to 30% 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 Recovery and Productivity Authority approves the plan, no later than December 31, 2020.