The report’s recommendations inform the MECP of the next steps for improving the Blue Box Program to reduce costs, increase diversion rates and reduce plastic waste and litter. Going forward, we have been informed that municipal stakeholders will have ample opportunities for input into transitioning the Blue Box Program to producer responsibility.
Below is a list of the recommendations from the report, by topic:
1) A measured timeframe for transition
• Transition should occur over a six-year period according to the following approximate timelines (i.e., from 2019 through 2025):
o Before the end of 2019: Minister issues transition direction to Stewardship Ontario outlining the timeline for transition.
o Over a one to one-and-a-half-year period (e.g., 2019-2020): Government consults on, and finalizes, regulations that specify how the blue box will move to producer responsibility.
o Over a two-year period (e.g., 2021-2022): Producers prepare to assume responsibility for the blue box and engage all parties, including municipalities and service providers.
o Over a three-year period (e.g., 2023-2025): Phased transfer of responsibility from municipalities to producers that transitions a similar amount of waste over each year.
• The province should provide transition direction and begin gathering the necessary information as early as possible to help all parties plan for the new producer responsibility framework.
• The province should issue a consultation document to provide additional information and clarification when consulting on the draft regulations.
• To provide the certainty needed to kick-start planning for transition, the timeline should provide early notification of the government’s plan for producer responsibility, expedited development of producer responsibility regulations, and sufficient time for municipalities and producers to prepare.
2) Ensuring a common collection system
• Regulations should maintain blue box collection as an essential part of any collection system, but also allow producers the flexibility to collect some packaging through other methods.
• Taken together, the blue box and other methods will create a common collection system that will give producers access to the materials they need to recycle and will ensure that the people of Ontario have uninterrupted service across the province during the transition period.
• The regulation-making process will determine how this collection system is to be established. The complexity of doing so should not be underestimated, which is why I recommend that the first step must be to collect and analyze the information on the existing blue box and recycling system in Ontario. This information could include:
o Programs and collection methods operated by municipalities.
o Populations serviced by blue box programs.
o Expiry of municipal collection contracts and lifespan of waste facilities.
o Municipal readiness to transition.
o Location of waste transfer, sorting and processing facilities.
o The volumes and flows of collected printed paper and packaging.
• The province should consider retaining expert advice to analyze the collected information and provide a recommendation on how best to proceed with transitioning services. This information will inform the regulation development and facilitate producer preparation.
3) Transitioning municipal assets
• Parties agreed that if producers are given full responsibility and accountability, they must have control to decide which assets will be used in a future collection and management system. Producers should not be forced to use, or pay for, municipal assets they do not need.
• Parties agreed that municipalities must be able to bid fairly on future services for producers, and municipalities may decide whether, and how, their existing assets may be part of their bids.
4) Standardizing what’s in the blue box
• Regulations should make producers responsible for all printed paper and packaging they put into the market by setting clear goals for diversion from landfill, but they should provide flexibility for producers to identify the best way to achieve these goals.
• Regulations should establish a standard list of blue box materials that must be collected through blue boxes across Ontario, and also allow producers to use other methods to meet or supplement diversion requirements.
• Regulations should establish a transparent process that will allow producers to change which materials are collected in the blue box versus other methods.
• Producers should be encouraged to use other methods to divert materials that cannot be recycled by the blue box or that might contaminate collected materials.
5) Determining eligible sources for blue box materials
• Producers should provide blue box collection wherever it was provided by municipalities or Indigenous communities as of a specified date, and going forward they will provide blue box service for new residential developments.
• After completing transition, producers should gradually expand collection in multi-residential buildings, as well as parks and public spaces where municipalities provide waste collection.
• Blue box services should not be expanded to industrial, commercial and institutional establishments as these facilities already have their own waste servicing arrangements and existing contracts for diversion. In addition, recycling in these facilities is covered by a different regulatory framework at this time.
• It is important that Ontarians have similar opportunities to recycle whether they are at home, work or out in public. The province should review and modernize the regulatory framework for industrial, commercial and institutional facilities to improve overall diversion rates in Ontario and to better align the kinds of materials recycled in this sector with the materials that are recycled through the blue box.
6) Setting effective diversion targets
• A single, overall blue box target is neither workable nor effective. The province should consult to identify specific targets for different types of printed paper and packaging material.
• The categories should be specific enough that they can be used to identify materials that have low diversion rates, so that action can be taken to improve diversion.
• The province should set targets that will drive diversion and challenge the ingenuity of Ontario’s industry to innovate and find new efficiencies and cost-savings.
• Targets should progressively increase over time to ensure that Ontario’s recycling services continue to innovate and evolve.
7) Promoting increased diversion from landfill
• Reduce, reuse, recycle should count as diversion. That is, processes that continue to make materials available as a resource for new products or packaging should be considered diversion.
• Incineration and energy-from-waste should not count as diversion.
• Don’t lose sight of the first R – reduction. Where feasible, producer responsibility regulations should recognize and reward producers for reducing waste and improving their environmental performance.
8) Thinking bigger than the blue box
• Co-ordinated, province-wide promotion and education is critical to build upon our blue box culture, reduce litter, and make waste reduction a part of everyday life.
• Ontario should take strong action to reduce plastic pollution and be a voice for decisive, focused, and coordinated action at both the national and international level. All parties must not lose sight of the fact that packaging is only one part of our plastics problem.
• The province should ensure that all ministries work together to develop a collaborative plan for Ontario to become a leading jurisdiction for innovation and economic growth in the recycling industry.
Please see the link below for the full report: