Ontario makes moves to create a more effective Blue Box Program

James Marshall
October 22, 2020

But the provincial government will shift to a new model where producers of the waste - businesses - will provide blue box collection and pay for the entire cost.

Under a proposal released Monday, the government will transition the full cost of the program to producers of products and packaging, resulting in an estimated savings of $135 million to cities.

Ontario unveiled regulations to improve the blue box program.

"Are parks are not recycling yet, mainly because we don't have equipment designated to pick up and separate, but we will follow the direction of the province", he said.

"There will be an additional cost to producers and they have accepted those costs", he told reporters. He expects the cost of packaged items to increase anywhere from 6 to 12 per cent under the proposed changes.

Ontario is the birthplace of the blue box - the curbside recycling program was first introduced in Kitchener in 1981.

The continued collection system of beverage containers by the Beer Store will continue, he said, because it works.

"This should really strengthen the overall recycling system, the environmental outcomes and, really, the economic benefits for Ontario", he said.

The province will also expand blue box services to apartment buildings, long-term care homes, schools and municipal parks in 2026.

Ontario is proposing legislation that would both expand the waste collected in the plastic bins and make the private sector responsible for the program, Environment Minister Jeff Yurek said in a news conference Monday.

Sebastian Prins, director of government relations for the Retail Council of Canada, agrees the cost of industry taking over the recycling program will be passed on to consumers.

"With theses proposed changes people would be able to put more materials in their blue box such as paper, plastic cups, wraps, foils and bags as well as food-related products like stir sticks, straws, cutlery, plates and even recyclable plastic coffee pods", said Yurek".

But Prins says there will be major benefits.

The province, which sets waste-diversion targets for municipalities, says only about 30 per cent of the waste produced in Ontario is recycled, with the rest winding up in landfills.

The City of Toronto spent about $70 million on the Blue Box program in 2017, although after collecting some rebates by Stewardship Ontario that number decreased to about $25 million in net costs.

"Our current mandate is single residential and multi-residential up to six units, or for those facilities we can drive through that are single level that our trucks can freely pass", Arsenault said. "You can start to get some very interesting efficiencies".

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the change is positive but the implementation will take too long.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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