Ontario Blue Box Program to Transition Under Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act

Connector Summer 2017

On July 7, 2017, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, City of Toronto, Regional Public Works Commissioners of Ontario, Municipal Waste Association, and Stewardship Ontario (SO) submitted a joint letter (PDF) to advise the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) of an accord they had reached on the future of the Blue Box Program Plan (BBPP).

In response to the joint request on Aug. 14, 2017, Hon. Chris Ballard, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, issued a requirement letter (PDF) that directs the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) and SO to develop a proposal for an amended BBPP.

The direction is characterized as the first phase transition for the Blue Box Program … and will set the stage for a second phase of transition that will result in individual producer responsibility under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act. The request from the Minister sets the stage to enable a transition of the current cost-shared model to full responsibility that allows interested municipalities to enter into an agreement with SO to collect and manage for residential paper products and packaging.

The letter also provides general principles that must be maintained, with more specific requirements detailed in the addendum. Some highlights:

  • Seamless transition that does not affect Ontarians’ experience and access to Blue Box services.
  • For municipalities that do not transition, the proposal is to define eligible costs and reporting requirements.
  • For municipalities that transition, the proposal will outline how and when the contracts will be transitioned.
  • Municipalities that choose to transition will have choice to cover services on behalf of SO.
  • Scope of materials in the proposal will be expanded to include transport and convenience packaging.
  • Municipalities are required to demonstrate how they will show benefit to taxpayers for the funding they will receive from producers.
  • Proposal will need to show how marketplace fairness will be respected, and ensure there are no barriers to competition in the second phase of the transition (i.e., individual producer responsibility).
  • Increase 75 per cent diversion rate (total Blue Box) for municipalities that have transitioned, and suggest materials-specific targets within the proposal.
  • Proposal to define responsibility for waste reduction and resource recovery, including methods to reduce, increase reusability and recyclability, and reduce or eliminate materials that limit these activities.

Furthermore, RPRA and SO will provide monthly progress reports to the MOECC on the amended BBPP, and a final report is expected for approval by Feb. 15, 2018 to replace the current plan in its entirety.

Source: RCO