North Bay residents and all Ontarians can expect a revamped recycling system with a goal of improving service across the province to address the serious problem of litter and plastic pollution.

“Transitioning the Blue Box program to full producer responsibility will promote innovation and increase Ontario’s recycling rates while saving taxpayers money,” said Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli. “This shift is a big step towards diverting waste, addressing plastic pollution and creating a new recycling economy that everyone can be proud of in Ontario.”

The provincial government reports recycling rates have been stalled for 15 years and up to 30 per cent of what is put into the blue box is sent to landfill. And, there are over 240 municipal blue box programs that have their own separate lists of accepted recyclable materials, which affects cost savings and contamination.

Full producer responsibility for recycling is planned for 2023 and, once fully in place, “recycling across the province will be more consistent, with a standard list of materials that can be recycled.”

“We know that Nipissing and communities throughout Ontario have been doing their part to reduce and divert waste from landfills and keep our province clean and free of litter,” said Fedeli.  “We also know that this transition is needed to improve our province’s overall waste diversion rate and reduce waste going to landfills.”

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario is embracing the move. “It puts the responsibility for recycling on those that have the greatest ability to make change – the producers,” said AMO President Jamie McGarvey. “Residents may not see a big difference at the curb, but it will make a difference for our environment, spur more innovation and importantly, lower costs for taxpayers.”

The Blue Box program will transition to producer responsibility in phases over a three-year period. Ontario says, “This approach will provide time to consult with the public, stakeholders and Indigenous communities while providing certainty for municipalities and adequate time for producers to engage service providers.”

The plan is for the first transfer of responsibility of programs to producers will begin January 1, 2023. By December 31, 2025, producers will be fully responsible for providing blue box services province-wide.

“There’s global momentum building to reduce waste, increase diversion and make sure that plastic waste does not end up littering our land and waters. Transitioning the Blue Box program to full producer responsibility demonstrates Ontario’s commitment and leadership on these issues,” said Mac Bain, AMO Board Member and Chair of the Waste Management Taskforce.  “Today’s announcement is a testament to the collaborative efforts by the Province, municipal governments and the business community to find solutions.”

Ontario says residents who currently receive municipal blue box services will continue to receive the same services throughout the transition period. Once producers are fully responsible for the program, Ontarians will experience the same or improved access to blue box services across the province. The expectation is that residents will see a similar collection system, but with more items being collected and a standardized program being offered across the province that will limit confusion and result in better performance.