Province to take over Blue Box program

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The province of Ontario is taking over Blue Box recycling collection, combining 253 municipal programs and rolling them into one provincial system with a standardized list of recyclable materials.

The province announced Thursday that the rollout of the new system will begin in 2023 and will save municipal taxpayers an estimated $156 million by making producers of products and packaging “fully responsible for the cost and operation of the program.”

Deep River, Laurentian Hills, and Head Clara Maria are expected to move to the new program in 2025.

“Producers and municipalities have been advocating for an enhanced, producer-led Blue Box program for over a decade and I’m proud that our government has finalized these improvements,” said Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

“Our goal is to ensure our program remains convenient, affordable and right for communities. That’s why we are creating a stronger and more effective blue box service that will have some of the highest waste diversion targets in North America to promote greater innovations in recycling technologies and increased use of recycled materials.”

The province said the “enhanced Blue Box program will make recycling easier for Ontarians” by:

  • Expanding collection to all communities outside the Far North by 2026;
  • Standardizing what can be recycled across Ontario;
  • Accepting common single-use and packaging-like products such as paper and plastic cups, foils, trays, bags and boxes sold for home use;
  • Collecting single-use items that are distributed or sold to consume food and beverage products, like stir sticks, straws, cutlery and plates;
  • Expanding services to more facilities such as apartment buildings, municipally run or non-profit long-term care homes and retirement homes, and schools.

The province said it will also expand collection to more parks, playgrounds, and transit stations, more than tripling the number of public space recycling bins funded under the current program so there are more opportunities to recycle at home and on the go.

“Our government is supporting the people of Ontario by moving accountability for recycling costs away from the taxpayer,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

“We are proud to support these changes that will help divert waste and protect our environment while putting money back in the pockets of people who live and work in this province.”

The province said Ontario’s overall waste diversion rate has stalled and about 70 per cent of our waste materials continue to end up in landfills.

“Ontarians will not see any disruption in their blue box services,” the announcement said.

“Communities already participating in curbside blue box collection will continue to receive the service as they transition to the new producer-run model, including those with populations under 5,000.”

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