Revamping Ontario's Recycling Program

Revamping Ontario's Recycling Program

During this year’s Waste Reduction Week, taking place from October 19 to 25, the Ontario government released new plans to revamp the province’s blue box program. The fundamental difference being that producers will now take on the full financial and operational responsibility for the end-of-life management of what they sell to Ontarians. This transition is slated to take place over the next 3 years, reaching more communities than ever before. All eligible communities will be operating under this new recycling program by January 1, 2026. 

This change is part of the larger Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, which commits to shifting to a waste management approach where producers are responsible for the waste generated from their products and packaging, and where waste is seen as a resource that can be recovered, reused and reintegrated back into the economy. All with the aim of improving the health of the local environment, communities and economy. Forcing large businesses to reimagine their waste, to manage the existing materials on the market as a valuable resource rather than merely something to be disposed of. This could mark the beginning of a monumental shift in corporate consciousness as we move towards a more circular economy.  

Ontario’s blue box program has long been shrouded in misinformation and confusion, making it nearly impossible for citizens to recycle with confidence. A primary goal of this overhaul is to have a consistent list of materials collected across the province. This will help to streamline the process, encouraging more people to participate in the blue box program. Not to mention, that the scope of sources will also be expanded to include: multi-unit residential buildings, schools, retirement homes, long-term care facilities, and some public spaces. The responsibility will fall on the producers to educate and promote this new system to ensure its success as it will ultimately be their duty to ensure that they meet their management requirement goals

Producers with more than $2 million dollars in sales will be required to register, report and keep records, and will be exempt from management requirements for a given material category if they supply less than: 9 tonnes of paper, 2 tonnes of rigid plastic, 2 tonnes of flexible plastic, 1 tonne of glass, 1 tonne of metal, and/or 1 tonne of non-alcoholic beverage containers. They will be held accountable to The Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority who will provide third-party oversight of outcomes. Consumers can also hold producers accountable, by choosing to support companies that are making efforts to exceed the baseline diversion targets that are being set by the government and showing their disdain for those who abuse the system. 

The Reusibly team has the end-of-life of our products at the top of mind when we bring anything to market. It is encouraging to see our governments holding other large producers, distributors and retailers accountable. We are hopeful that this new plan will ensure a more thoughtful marketplace, keeping waste out of our landfills and natural ecosystems. 

The province is seeking public feedback on its proposed blue box program changes and we urge you all to take a stand, to be engaged, and to fight for the changes that you want to see. These proposed changes are by no means perfect and many may argue that we can do much better. The plan is being criticized for having a narrow scope, low targets and long transition period, which will see millions of tonnes of waste will end up in our parks, lakes, landfills, and incinerators in the meantime. Environmental and civil society groups such as the Recycling Council of Ontario, Environmental Defence, Toronto Environmental Alliance, have immediate comment forms that make providing your input easier. The time to have your say is now! 

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