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Producers will have to pay for Blue Box Program starting in 2023

'Our government is supporting municipalities by moving to put accountability for recycling where it belongs — on the companies who make the products,' Municipal Affair minister says
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The Town of Newmarket is currently conducting visual spot-checks of blue boxes. File photo/NewmarketToday

The province is opting to take the advice of one of their special advisors.

In a news release today, Jeff Yurek, minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and Steve Clark, minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced that Ontario’s Blue Box Program will transition to producer responsibility in phases over a three-year period starting Jan. 1, 2023.

By Dec. 31, 2025, producers will be fully responsible for providing blue box services provincewide.

"Transitioning the Blue Box Program to full producer responsibility will promote innovation and increase Ontario's recycling rates while saving taxpayers money," said Yurek. "This shift is a big step toward diverting waste, addressing plastic pollution and creating a new recycling economy that everyone can be proud of in Ontario."

York Region provided comments to the province to address a number of municipal concerns and meet the goal of achieving zero waste in Ontario, including making producers both operationally and financially responsible for "end-of-life management" of their waste.

The Region also pushed for high targets to be established that would force producers to implement deposit return programs.

"Our government is supporting municipalities by moving to put accountability for recycling where it belongs — on the companies who make the products," said Clark during the announcement.

In late 2016, Ontario proclaimed the Waste Free Ontario Act, comprising the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act and the Waste Diversion Transition Act.

At the heart of the legislation was the idea that producers should be responsible for the end-of-life management of their products and packaging.

Municipalities across Ontario are currently paying about $130 million per year for blue box recycling, which comes directly from the taxpayers' pockets.

Over the coming year, the province will develop and consult on regulations to support the new producer responsibility framework for the Blue Box Program. Once producer responsibility is fully in place, recycling across the province will be more consistent with a standard list of materials that can be recycled.

Starting this fall, Ontario will begin early engagement with stakeholders, including the municipal and industry stakeholder working group that took part in Lindsay's previous mediation sessions, to continue thorough consultations and facilitate the Blue Box Program's transition to producer responsibility.

— With files from NewmarketToday staff

Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings nine years of experience to her role as regional reporter for Village Media, primarily covering county matters, court, Collingwood and Barrie matters
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