Changes to Ontario blue box program
The Move to Extended / Individual Producer Responsibility
Waste Watch Ottawa supports the transition of the blue and black box recycling program from a municipal responsibility to a fully funded and operated producer responsibility program. The transition is due to take effect in Ottawa on July 1, 2023 and will be phased in across the province by regional areas until fully implemented by December 31, 2025.
Under the current program, the city is responsible for the operation of the program, including collection and contracting for the processing and marketing of the collected materials. Approximately 50% of the net costs of the program are currently paid by the producers and users of packaging and printed papers through a producer responsibility organization called Stewardship Ontario. Producers are the familiar brand owners of products that we all see and purchase at groceries and other stores.
Under Provincial regulations the funding and operation of all municipal recycling programs will transfer to producers under a policy known as Extended Producer Responsibility / Individual Producer Responsibility. Such a transfer has taken place in British Columbia and is underway in New Brunswick, Quebec and Alberta and is being considered in other provinces.
City staff has been given authority to negotiate with producers to have the city continue to operate the recycling program during the 2 year transition period but with full producer funding.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) is broadly supportive of the transition but has raised concerns about the operational details, especially during the transition period:
Along with other provincial environmental groups Waste Watch Ottawa, while broadly supporting the EPR/IPR approach, has expressed concern that the provincial regulation does not set out high enough targets for the collection and recycling of materials nor has robust enough reporting standards.
WWO will be watching the transition closely to help ensure that current levels of recycling service and diversion are enhanced and not weakened.
Waste Watch Ottawa is part of an informal environmental group coalition that is supporting sustainable waste reduction and waste diversion policies and programs in Ontario. Along with Environmental Defence Canada and other organizations such as the Toronto Environmental Alliance and the Circular Innovation Council (formerly the Recycling Council of Ontario,) Waste Watch Ottawa has submitted comments to the provincial Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks on the transition of municipal recycling programs to producer responsibility and on other waste related environmental issues.