In the coming years, the items that can be recycled are being standardized across Ontario.
This week, the province revealed changes to the blue box recycling program. It means the service is expanding to more communities and the materials that can be recycled will be standardized across the province. The producers of products and packaging will also be responsible for the cost and operation of the program, according to the announcement.
There will be a staggered transition to the program from 2023 to 2025.
The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) is lauding the government's "giant step forward" in improving waste diversion.
“This regulation has been looked at by three consecutive governments. I would like to recognize Premier Ford and Minister Yurek for having the courage to introduce this regulation, which will not only benefit our environment but will remove the cost of the Blue Box program from property taxes,” said Danny Whalen, FONOM president, in a news release.
According to the province, waste diversion rates have stalled and about 70 per cent of waste materials are ending up in landfills.
The enhanced program will accept common single-use items such as paper and plastic cups, foils, trays, bags and boxes sold for home use, and collect single-use items for food and beverage products like stir sticks, straws, cutlery and plates, according to the province.
Services will also expand to more apartment buildings, longterm care homes, retirement homes and schools. More parks, playgrounds and transit stations will also have recycling bins.
“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, in the provincial news release.
“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.”
It's expected the changes will save municipalities $156 million annually.