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​Positive steps being made to advance recycling in Ontario according to RCO

Provincial government transitioning responsibility of Blue Box materials to producers

Governments at all levels, industry, environmental groups, and taxpayers across Ontario have long agreed that the residential recycling framework that has been in place since 2002 requires an overhaul to improve the province's stagnant diversion rate. 

The Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO), which helped pilot the first Blue Box program in Kitchener, Ontario, in the 1980s, has stated full support on the Government of Ontario's direction to wind-up the existing cost-shared model between municipalities and business. The current action includes a transition to a full Producer Responsibility model that gives industry 100 percent financial and operational responsibility for its packaging and printed paper materials collected in the Blue Box recycling program.

"Today's announcement (August 15) is an important first measure to reduce the amount of waste produced and improve the amount captured for recycling, and in particular, packaging and plastics," says Jo-Anne St. Godard, Executive Director, Recycling Council of Ontario. 

"The Blue Box program has been a great success with municipalities from all corners of Ontario diverting millions of tonnes of packaging from landfill.

"However, we have hit a plateau, and in order to improve, the best framework transfers full responsibility of cost to those
that have the most influence: the companies whose packages the Blue Box continues to service. By taking on the full costs,
producers will be better motivated to innovate, look at how best to increase recycling right across the province, and keep
costs down."

Fully transitioning the Blue Box is expected to take six years to complete and the Government of Ontario has requested that
current levels of service are maintained. During this time, stakeholders can examine opportunities for improvement, which includes standardizing the materials that are collected in all communities; setting specific targets for each of type of
packaging including plastics; and incenting producers to design better packaging and a system that maximizes collection and recycling."

While the focus of the wind-up and transition is currently aimed at curbside collection only, concurrent consideration could be placed on how new policy could improve recycling in the institutional, commercial and industrial (ICI) sectors, which
generates 60 per cent of Ontario's total waste that ends up in disposal.

"Renewing and improving Blue Box recycling can pave way for province-wide improvements for business and industry,
and address Ontario's overall waste problem," says St. Godard.


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