A proposed regulation, and proposed regulatory amendments, to make producers responsible for operating blue box programs

ERO number
019-2579
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
October 19, 2020 - December 3, 2020 (45 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
October 19, 2020
to December 3, 2020

Decision summary

We finalized the regulation that will make producers responsible for blue box materials under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016. We also finalized amendments to Regulation 101/94: Recycling and Composting of Municipal Waste to sunset municipal obligations to run blue box systems after transition to full producer responsibility.

Decision details

Ontario is taking action to improve recycling across the province by making producers responsible for the delivery of Ontario's Blue Box Program. This will ensure that our recycling program is viable over the long term and remains at the heart of residential recycling as committed in our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.

The Blue Box Program will continue to be convenient and accessible for Ontarians and those 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.

Blue Box regulation

After considering input received from stakeholders on the proposed producer responsibility regulation for blue box materials under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016, (the “blue box regulation”) the regulation was filed on June 3, 2021.

Under the blue box regulation, we are making producers of blue box materials fully responsible for managing their products by:

  • transitioning existing municipal, local services board and First Nation blue box services to producer responsibility between July 1, 2023 and December 31, 2025
  • making producers responsible for a consistent set of blue box materials and eligible sources beginning on January 1, 2026

The blue box regulation will put in place a new framework that:

  • makes individual producers responsible for the collection and end-of-life management of the blue box materials they supply to consumers in Ontario.
  • gives producers control over how they provide blue box collection services to residents, manage collected blue box wastes, and achieve compliance with diversion targets.

To support this transition, we also amended Ontario Regulation 101/94: Recycling and Composting of Municipal Waste. The amendments require any local municipality that operates a blue box waste management system as of August 15, 2019 to continue to provide this service until the local municipality’s blue box program has transitioned to producer responsibility under the blue box regulation. Requirements that a local municipality operate a blue box waste management system would be fully repealed by 2026.

New requirements for blue box materials

The blue box regulation requires producers of paper, packaging, packaging-like products and single-use items to:

  • maintain or improve existing blue box services, including participating in a common curbside blue box collection system across Ontario
  • expand blue box services to communities outside the Far North, regardless of their population
  • expand blue box collection services to additional sources, such as multi-unit residential buildings, schools, some public spaces, and specified retirement and long-term care homes
  • collect a consistent set of materials in blue boxes across the province
  • meet management requirements for blue box materials, such as diversion targets
  • implement a promotion and education program to increase awareness about collection, reuse, recycling and recovery of materials

The blue box regulation will not:

  • impact existing deposit return initiatives operated for alcohol beverage containers
  • require producers to provide blue box services in the industrial, commercial, and institutional (IC&I) sectors, except for:
    • beverage containers must be collected in the IC&I sectors
    • all blue box material must be collected in multi-unit residential dwellings, schools, specified long-term care and retirement homes, and some public spaces as specified in the regulation

Producers of blue box materials are required to register with the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (the “Authority”) by October 1, 2021.

For municipalities, local services boards and First Nation communities that currently operate blue box services, producers are responsible for delivering these services according to the dates listed in the Transition Schedule. At this time, the proposed “Blue Box Transition Schedule” includes municipalities and local services board areas with blue box programs. The “Blue Box Transition Schedule” would be updated to include First Nation reserves and specify certain calendar dates for each transitioning program within a given year, with quarterly transition dates based on contract expiry.

For all other eligible communities, producers are responsible for providing collection as of January 1, 2026. Producers will begin reporting on results starting in 2024, continuing annually thereafter.

Municipalities and local services boards are required to register and provide information to facilitate the delivery of collection services by producers. First Nations may choose to register if they wish to participate in the blue box collection program. Registration and reporting dates vary depending on the community and their transition date as listed in the Transition Schedule.

The blue box regulation makes individual producers responsible for meeting the requirements. However, to facilitate an efficient delivery model and allow for economies of scale, producers would have the flexibility to meet their obligations individually, or collaboratively with other producers, by retaining service providers (e.g. a Producer Responsibility Organization).

The blue box regulation is anticipated to increase direct blue box material management costs. Producer responsibility is expected to help mitigate these cost pressures. Giving producers full control can help promote operational costs savings from increased market clout and centralized contracting, collection, management, sorting and processing operations.

Producer responsibility organizations and processors will be required to register, report and keep records.

Comments received

Through the registry

223

By email

2,771

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

For the blue box regulation and amendments to Ontario Regulation 101/94, we received comments through:

  • the Environmental Registry notice
  • webinar consultations on:
  • November 27, 2019
  • November 28, 2019
  • November 17, 2020
  • November 19, 2020
  • Webinar engagement with First Nation communities on:
  • November 16, 2020
  • November 26, 2020
  • Online meetings with individual stakeholders and associations

The comments were from a wide range of stakeholders, including

  • producers of blue box materials
  • municipalities
  • retailers
  • environmental organizations
  • industry, trade, and sector associations
  • waste management service providers
  • packaging manufacturers and other users of recovered blue box materials

Feedback was also received from First Nation communities.

We considered the comments we received when we were developing the regulations.

What we heard

While there was general support for the blue box regulation and the amendments to Ontario Regulation 101/94, commenters also provided suggestions that have been incorporated into the final blue box regulation.

Changes made in the blue box regulation in response to stakeholder feedback

Scope

Amended definition of alcohol beverage products and packaging to ensure there is no impact to existing deposit return initiatives by clarifying that non-alcoholic beer and wine

  • containers and packaging and other packaging or products associated with alcohol producers are also exempt from the blue box.
  • Refined definition of compostable products and packaging to ensure recyclable paper materials are not captured and to better capture complex compostables that are not suitable for traditional mechanical recycling processes.
  • Refined definition of packaging-like products to exclude flexible plastic materials used to contain, protect, or handle food.
    • This recognizes the vital role these materials play in helping residents extend the life of food and reduce food waste and reduces risk of cost increases on these products.
  • Clarified that de minimis thresholds (e.g., minimum thresholds for exempted businesses) apply to revenue generated in Ontario and materials supplied in Ontario to consumers.

Common collection system and allocation table

  • Revised the threshold that a producer responsibility organization (PRO) must account for at least 10% of total supplied blue box material to be rule creators in developing the rules for the allocation table to 20,000 tonnes of total supplied blue box material, as supplied by client producers.
    • This would help ensure that PROs at the negotiation table represent a broad range of producers in the negotiation.
  • Require that the rules for the allocation table must be agreed-upon by producer responsibility organizations that are retained by producers who collectively represent at least 66% of the total blue box material supplied into Ontario reported by those producers.
    • This will help make sure that the rules take into account the views of most producers represented by the producer responsibility organizations who are developing the rules.
  • Amended the timeline for the submission of the allocation table to the Authority from March 31, 2022 to July 1, 2022.
    • This provides producers a full year to plan for transition in advance of a transition start date of July 1, 2023, as per the revised Transition Schedule.
    • The earliest date for rule submission is maintained at January 1, 2022.
  • Specified that only producer responsibility organizations can develop the initial rules that govern the allocation table.
    • This would simplify the initial rule creation process. Producers would only need to join a producer responsibility organization to influence the initial rules – they could still choose to fulfill collection and management obligations individually.
  • Clarified the rule creation process and simplified the factors to be considered in developing the rules for the allocation table to reduce burden and focus on outcomes. Included a provision which states that nothing in the regulation shall be construed as requiring or authorizing any person or entity to engage in an activity that would constitute a contravention of the Competition Act.

Collection

  • Clarified that producers are obligated to collect materials from eligible sources, and not third-party operated areas located in a facility.
    • This confirms that producers are not responsible for collecting blue box wastes from retailers, restaurants, or other ineligible sources where they are located in a multi-unit residential building or other facility.
  • Provided additional clarity on the scope of long-term care and retirement homes that will receive blue box collection from producers, by excluding for-profit homes from new collection requirements.
    • This approach maintains Blue Box services for long-term care and retirement homes currently included in municipal programs and allows additional municipal and non-profit homes to opt-in for services starting in 2026.
  • Revised approach to public space collection to require producers to provide and collect from a minimum number of bins per capita and provide flexibility to place bins in parks, playgrounds, sidewalks and public transit stations and stops, according to a frequency that would collect materials from the receptacles before they would ordinarily be full.
    • This sets consistent standards for eligible communities while providing operational flexibility to target high traffic areas where blue box materials are more frequently generated.
  • Clarified circumstances where producers and/or producer responsibility organizations are required to repair or replace blue box receptacles to ensure residences do not lack access to collection services if bins are damaged.

Alternative collection systems

  • Added convenience and accessibility standards for mail-back systems.

Management requirements

  • Clarified material categories.
  • To drive ambitious and achievable diversion results that reflect operational realities of collection and management and that maintain Ontario’s leadership position in North America, set:
    • Paper management requirement at 80% for 2026 and 85% for 2030;
    • Rigid plastic management requirement at 50% for 2026; and
    • Flexible plastic management requirement at 25% for 2026.
  • Eliminated use of recycled content to reduce annual management requirement (e.g. diversion target) to ensure that new provision can align with the federal intent to develop national recycled content standards.

Registration, reporting, auditing, and record-keeping

  • Amended producer reporting requirements to allow producers to deduct the following materials from their annual supply of blue box materials, as it pertains to their management requirement:
    a) materials sold and managed in a single location
    b) materials removed from the consumer’s premises upon delivery
    • Producers would not count these materials toward their annual management requirement, as they have been managed outside the common collection system.
  • Clarified reporting requirements for compostable products and packaging marketed in Ontario, to provide data on the weight of materials marketed by each standard used to certify the compostability of these materials, to better understand the composition of the market.
  • Updated timelines for producer registration and reporting to provide more time for producers to report 2021 blue box supply data and reflect the revised process for allocation table and the allocation table itself.
  • Updated timelines for producer responsibility organization registration and reporting to provide more time to self-nominate as a rule creator and reflect the revised process for developing the rules that govern the allocation table and the allocation table itself.
  • Clarified that producers can have PROs report on supply, collection and management of blue box materials on their behalf.
  • Amended registration and reporting requirements and timelines for communities to reduce burden and have communities provide the right data when it is needed.

Promotion and education

  • Clarified requirements with regard to providing information online and in print.

Transition

  • Amended regulation and Transition Schedule to begin transition on July 1, 2023.
    • This provides PROs additional time to plan for transition and to establish the allocation table that assigns collection responsibilities in the common collection system.
  • Amended service standards during transition. Producers can choose whether to:
    a) provide collection services consistent with what a local community delivered as of August 15, 2019, or
    b) provide collection according to the 2026 service standards, including all designated materials. In both options, producers must maintain the collection frequency previously provided by the municipality until 2026.
    • This maintains collection frequency and reduces disruption for residents during the transition period.
    • This allows producers and producer responsibility organizations to use the transition period to develop economies of scale and avoid separate and fragmented contracts for pre- and post-2026 blue box service operation, while maintaining or improving access to collection services.
  • Modified the Transition Schedule to reference lower-tier municipalities to be consistent with the regulation.
  • Modified the Transition Schedule to include communities with blue box services that were inadvertently omitted from the proposed schedule.
  • Modified the Transition Schedules to change some transition years for municipalities that were assigned proposed transition dates that were not consistent with the transition dates assigned to neighbouring or partner communities with whom they deliver a co-ordinated Blue Box Program.
    • This better reflects existing catchment areas for regional blue box services, maintains geographic continuity for transition groups, and avoid potential disruption to existing blue box services.
  • Modified the Transition Schedule to set specific months and days in the Transition Schedule for municipal transition.
    • Municipalities with expiring contracts or a preferred date within their assigned year were assigned that date to reduce the need for contract extensions.
    • Where a municipality’s preferred year could not be accommodated, municipalities with contracts expiring shortly before their assigned year were given a transition date of January 1 to reduce costs to taxpayers.
    • Where a municipality’s preferred year could not be accommodated, municipalities were assigned their preferred month and day in their assigned transition year to facilitate contract extensions in yearly increments.
    • Municipalities that rely on other municipalities for collection or infrastructure were assigned a date that is consistent with or earlier than their municipal partner, where this information was known, to avoid disruption to municipal Blue Box programs.
    • Municipalities that provided no contract expiry date or preference were assigned quarterly dates within their assigned year to better balance costs for producers across each transition year.

Supporting materials

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-2579
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Proposal posted

Comment period

October 19, 2020 - December 3, 2020 (45 days)

Proposal details

Our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan commits to shifting to a waste management approach where producers are responsible for the waste generated from their products and packaging, and where waste is seen as a resource that can be recovered, reused and reintegrated back into the economy. This will support the health of Ontario’s environment, communities and economy.

Ontario is transitioning the current blue box program to a producer responsibility model. The new model means transitioning costs of the blue box program away from municipal taxpayers and making producers of products and packaging fully responsible for the waste they create. The model will:

  • improve recycling across the province
  • address the serious problem of plastic pollution

Ontario is continuing to move forward with its full producer responsibility framework for waste reduction, reuse and recycling by proposing a new regulation, and proposing amendments to an existing regulation. This proposed regulation, under the RRCEA would require producers to operate a common collection system to collect blue box recycling from every eligible source in Ontario and manage recycling in a safe and environmentally sound manner. Producers would be allowed to engage producer responsibility organizations (PROs) to help them achieve their regulated outcomes.

The proposed regulation under the RRCEA would:

  • make producers responsible for collecting and managing blue box materials, which comprises of designated products and packaging
  • expand the scope of blue box materials collected and managed
  • maintain or improve existing blue box services, including creating one common curbside blue box collection system across Ontario
  • expand blue box services to communities outside the Far North, regardless of their population
  • expand blue box services to additional sources, such as multi-unit residential buildings, schools, retirement homes, long-term care homes and some public spaces
  • collect a consistent set of materials in blue boxes across the province
  • make producers responsible for meeting management requirements for blue box materials, such as diversion targets

The proposed regulation would not:

  • impact existing deposit return initiatives operated for alcohol beverage containers
  • require producers to provide blue box services in the industrial, commercial, and institutional sectors (beyond multi-unit residential buildings, schools, long-term care homes, retirement homes and some public spaces)

Blue box material would include designated products, packaging, single-use packaging-like products and single-use food and beverage service products made from paper, metal, glass, plastic, or any combination of these materials.

The government’s intention is for producers to be responsible for designated products and packaging, including compostable materials. Further time is needed, however, to determine how compostables can be best managed and diverted from landfill. For this reason, the proposed regulation would exempt compostable materials from collection and management requirements. Producers of compostable materials would be obligated to register and report annually, to help build our knowledge of how these materials are used in Ontario.

The proposed regulation would provide for:

  • accessible and convenient services
    • producers would have to collect blue box materials from residences, facilities and some public spaces across Ontario
  • best-in-class diversion performance
    • producers would have to achieve some of the highest diversion targets in North America
  • province-wide promotion and education
    • producers would provide promotion and education materials to increase consumer knowledge and awareness
  • verifiable data on supply and diversion
    • producers, service providers and other applicable persons would register, report, keep records and provide audited data
  • enforcement for clear outcomes
    • The Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (the Authority) would provide third-party oversight of outcomes

The proposed regulation is posted for a 45-day comment period.

Legislative amendments

On November 5, 2020 amendments to the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 were introduced in the Legislature in Bill 229, Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act (Budget Measures), 2020. The proposed amendments to the RRCEA would enable some of the elements in the proposed regulation, including to:

  • give rule-making powers to the producers and/or their PROs that develop the common collection system so they can develop the system’s rules
  • hold both producers and their PROs accountable for collecting from blue box eligible sources, meeting service standards (e.g., for frequency of collection) and other obligations

Industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) sector

Ontario recognizes that a large proportion of waste is generated by the industrial, commercial, and institutional (IC&I) sector. Separately from this proposed blue box regulation, Ontario intends to move forward to reform the IC&I waste framework in the coming months. A key aspect will be to align, where possible, with the proposed blue box regulation in the types of materials collected for recycling. The goals of a reform of the IC&I waste framework could include:

  • maintain provincial direction to IC&I establishments to reduce and divert waste
  • improve overall diversion in the IC&I sector
  • reduce and minimize burden to IC&I establishments
  • support verified outcomes and modernized compliance

A full consultation will take place for the IC&I waste framework over the coming months to ensure that all stakeholders can provide their input to improve the current waste diversion activities within the IC&I sector.

Ensuring compliance

The Authority is responsible for oversight, compliance and enforcement, as well as data collection from producers and other parties that conduct activities related to resource recovery and waste reduction in Ontario.

Under the RRCEA, the Authority already has a suite of compliance and enforcement tools, including warnings, inspections and prosecutions.

It is expected that an administrative penalties regulation for Blue Box materials would be developed to provide an additional compliance tool for the Authority and would be consulted on at a later date.

Key principles of the proposed regulation

Under a producer responsibility framework for recycling, costs are shifted from municipalities and taxpayers to producers that are better able to control costs through influence over:

  • the types of products and packaging put into the marketplace
  • the materials used to make products and packaging
  • how the products and packaging are managed at end-of-life

This model encourages producers to find new and innovative ways to reduce costs and improve the environmental management of recyclable materials.

The proposed regulation is based on the following three principles:

1. Improving environmental outcomes

  • ensuring blue box materials are collected and managed at end-of-life in a safe and environmentally sound manner
  • collect a consistent set of blue box materials across the province
  • recovering resources and reducing the use of raw materials by encouraging the recycling of blue box materials for use in new products and packaging
  • keeping plastics and other materials out of our environment and communities
  • expanding blue box services to eligible communities that currently do not have the program and to additional sources, such as multi-unit residential buildings, schools, retirement homes, long-term care homes and some public spaces
  • increasing waste diversion, reducing waste sent to landfill, and extending the life of our landfills

2. Reducing costs and burden for business

  • encouraging a sustainable system for industry and consumers by lowering costs, promoting consistency and ensuring ease of access
  • supporting the principle of reducing taxpayer burden by shifting responsibilities and costs related to the collection and management of recyclable material to producers, and utilizing non-government oversight

3. Supporting economic growth and innovation

  • creating jobs, encouraging investment and growing Ontario’s infrastructure through activities related to reuse and recycling;
  • creating demand and markets for materials recovered from blue box wastes
  • encouraging more efficient and effective collection networks for blue box materials

The ministry is seeking your feedback on the content of the proposed regulation, as well as specific input on questions identified in the Additional Input section at the end of this posting.

Proposed regulation details

The government is proposing a new regulation under the RRCEA that would make producers responsible for collecting and managing the full life-cycle of designated products and packaging.

The sections below provide a summary of each component of the regulation. For full details, please refer to the proposed blue box Regulation, included in the supporting material section.

This summary addresses the following key elements of the regulation:

In addition, the summary addresses

  1. Designating materials
  2. Defining responsible producers
  3. De minimis thresholds
  4. Common collection system and annual allocation table
  5. Collection requirements
  6. Management requirements
  7. Recycled content
  8. Transition
  9. First nations
  10. Promotion and education
  11. Registration and reporting
  12. Implementation and governance

In addition, the summary addresses

  1. Proposed amendments to Ontario Regulation 101/94
  2. Additional Questions
  3. Other public consultation opportunities
  4. Regulatory impact statement

1. Designating materials

The proposed regulation designates blue box materials under the RRCEA, which would include a number of materials that residents purchase as part of their daily life.

Producers would be responsible for collecting and managing items made from paper, metal, glass, plastic, or any combination of these materials, including:

  • packaging
  • printed paper
  • unprinted paper
  • non-alcoholic beverage containers
  • single-use packaging-like products
  • single-use items

The regulation would expand collection requirements to include additional materials commonly put in blue boxes by residents:

  • unprinted paper
  • single-use packaging-like products, such as foils, wraps, trays, boxes, bags
  • single-use items supplied with food and beverage products such as straws, cutlery, plates, stir sticks

The regulation would exclude materials subject to other producer responsibility requirements or that are not suitable for management under the blue box regulation, such as:

  1. Any materials managed by a waste diversion program, including materials managed under:
    • Ontario Regulation 225/18, Tires
    • Ontario Regulation 30/20, Batteries
    • Ontario Regulation 522/20, Electric and Electronic Equipment
    • Ontario Regulation 387/16, Municipal Hazardous or Special Wastes, and any future regulation for these materials under the RRCEA;
    • Ontario Regulation 298/12, Collection of Pharmaceuticals and Sharps
  2. Items intended for disposal in a sewage works
  3. Paper fibres used for sanitary purposes
  4. Blue box packaging that cannot be easily separated from hazardous waste
  5. Materials designed for containment of waste destined for landfill, such as bags used to collect garbage, recycling, or food and organic waste
  6. Books and hardcover periodicals

The government recognizes the success and positive impact programs like The Beer Store’s deposit return program have on the environment. The proposed regulation would not designate alcoholic beverage containers or their associated packaging as blue box materials. The proposed regulation would not interfere with the existing Ontario Deposit Return Program and would ensure that the deposit return programs for alcoholic beverage containers can continue.

It is proposed that producers of all categories of blue box material would be responsible for collection, management, promotion and education, registration, reporting and auditing, except for producers of blue box materials made from compostable materials, which would not be subject to collection and management requirements (i.e. registration and reporting only). This would allow the province to learn about the type, amount, and use of compostable materials in Ontario while it works with producers, municipalities, and waste managers on an effective producer responsibility approach for these materials.

2. Defining responsible producers

The proposed regulation would establish a methodology for identifying the producer who will have responsibilities under the regulation.

The proposed regulation would set out a hierarchy of producers to ensure that the person with the closest connection to designated products and packaging is made the responsible producer.

The regulation would establish one hierarchy for persons that add packaging or single-use items to products. The regulation has a specific hierarchy for these materials to make sure that the regulation assigns responsibility to the person that made the decision to supply the packaging or single-use item with a product. For example, the hierarchy would make a Canadian brandowner of a shoe responsible for the shoebox they provided with the shoe. Should a shoe retailer provide a plastic carry-out bag with the boxed shoe, the retailer is responsible for the bag they provided when they sold the product

The regulation would establish a separate hierarchy for persons that supply products such as printed and unprinted paper and packaging-like products to the Ontario market.

Both hierarchies would focus responsibility on:

  • the brandholder who is resident in Canada whose blue box materials are supplied to Ontario consumers as the first person who would be responsible
  • where no brandholder is resident in Canada, then the importer and others who supplied blue box materials who are resident in Ontario
  • where no importer is resident in Ontario, then the retailer who supplied blue box materials to consumers in Ontario

The regulation would capture retailers that are located out-of-province but who supply blue box materials to Ontario consumers through the internet.

3. De minimis thresholds

The regulation proposes to exempt producers from collection and management responsibilities for a specific category of material if their blue box supply for that material category is below a de minimis threshold.

Producers with less than $2 million in sales annually would be exempt from collection and management requirements, as well as from registering with the Authority and promotion and education requirements.

Producers with more than $2 million in sales would still be required to register, report and keep records. They would be exempt from management requirements for a given material category should they supply less than:

  • 9 tonnes of paper
  • 2 tonnes of rigid plastic
  • 2 tonnes of flexible plastic
  • 1 tonne of glass
  • 1 tonne of metal
  • 1 tonne of non-alcoholic beverage containers

4. Common collection system and annual allocation table

The proposed regulation would establish a collection system, known as the common collection system, to provide collection services to all eligible sources. Through the common collection system, producers would be required to collect a consistent set of materials across the province – meaning that all designated products and packaging could go in the blue box.

Producers could be exempt from participating in the common collection system if they set up an alternative system to collect the specific products and packaging they supply in Ontario. The alternative system must meet certain requirements to be eligible for the exemption, such as higher diversion targets than the common collection system.

The proposed regulation includes requirements for producers to establish a common collection system which provides eligible sources, such as residences, and facilities, access to collection sites or collection services for their blue box materials. Producers would deliver these services either on their own or by contracting a PRO to do so on their behalf.

The proposed regulation would require the development of an annual allocation table, according to which the common collection system would be delivered, and which would be governed by a set of rules, that identifies which producers are responsible for collection from which sources. The proposal would require that amendments be made to the RRCEA to enable the creation of such rules by PROs and producers.

The proposed regulation sets out qualification criteria that would determine which producers and PROs would be eligible to create the rules for the development of the annual allocation table to ensure that those parties writing the rules represent a broad swath of producer interests.

Eligible PROs and producers who register, would develop the rules according to criteria in the regulation. The rules would govern how eligible sources are assigned to producers and their PROs in the annual allocation table, and how the annual allocation is developed, maintained, and updated.

If qualified producers or PROs are unable to develop the rules, the minister will develop the rules instead. The minister may also revise existing rules in order to ensure that the blue box common collection system functions as intended. Despite the minister having this ability, it is expected that the rules will be developed by producers or PROs and options such as mediation or arbitration are being considered as mechanisms to facilitate this outcome.

Once in force, the rules would have regulatory effect over all producers and PROs in the common collection system, requiring applicable parties to provide collection to the sources in the allocation table. This would be required to ensure that a cohesive and effective common collection system can provide uninterrupted collection services to Ontarians.

Producers would be obligated to participate in the common collection system and be assigned sources in the annual allocation table unless they establish an alternative collection system. The regulation provides criteria for the establishment of alternative collection systems, to ensure that these systems are effective and accessible. Producers could also establish supplemental systems to complement the common collection system and provide residents with more opportunities to divert waste.

5. Collection requirements

The proposed regulation would specify that all municipalities, unorganized territories, and reserves located outside the Far North would be eligible communities, including communities with populations below 5,000. The proposed regulation does not propose excluding communities based on any population threshold. This would expand collection services to eligible communities that currently do not have local blue box programs.

Collection requirements in the proposed regulation have been structured to ensure there are continued collection services to eligible sources while also providing producers with flexibility on how they establish their collection systems.

The regulation would expand blue box collection to the following eligible sources:

  • Permanent and seasonal dwellings
  • Multi-unit residential buildings
  • Public and private schools
  • Long-term care homes
  • Retirement homes
  • Specified public spaces (such as certain municipal parks and playgrounds)

The proposed regulation would include service standards for the eligible sources (i.e., type of collection, minimum frequency for collection, provision and replacement of collection receptacles, hours of operations for depots), in order to ensure convenient access to residents a level playing field in the service provided. Proposed service standards have been aligned with how residences and facilities receive garbage collection to make sure recycling is as accessible and convenient as garbage collection.

Producers and their PROs would both be legally responsible for providing collection according to the annual allocation table and the service standards contained in the proposed regulation, if amendments are made to the RRCEA to enable this.

The proposed regulation would require producers or the PROs to send all collected material to a registered processor and restrict them from sending collected materials directly to disposal.

It is proposed that collection requirements would apply to producers of all categories of blue box materials except for:

  • producers of only exempted materials (including compostable materials, which are subject only to reporting requirements);
  • producers who already have an established alternative collection system that meets all prescribed criteria; and
  • producers who fall below the de minimis thresholds for every material category.

6. Management requirements

The proposed regulation would require producers to achieve a management requirement (i.e. a total amount of blue box materials they must divert), based on the weight of blue box materials they supplied in a given material category.

  • for producers of non-alcoholic beverage containers, producers would be responsible for a management requirement based on all the materials they supplied in Ontario, including the industrial, commercial, and institutional sectors
  • for all other material categories except compostable materials, producers would be responsible for a management requirement based on the materials they supplied to eligible sources only

The proposed regulation would establish recovery percentages (i.e. diversion targets) that producers would use to determine their management requirements for each category of material they market.

The proposed regulation sets out six material categories, each with individual recovery percentages for 2026-2029, and 2030 and beyond. A producer would have flexibility to choose which collected materials to divert within a given category to meet their management requirement for that category. For example, in the paper category a producer of boxboard can also recover printed paper to meet its management requirement.

Material Category Proposed Target: 2026-2029 Proposed Target: 2030-onward
Paper 90% 90%
Glass 75% 80%
Metal 67% 75%
Rigid Plastic 55% 60%
Flexible Plastic 30% 40%
Non-Alcoholic Beverage Containers 75% 80%

A producer would be expected to make best efforts to meet management requirements of blue box materials during the transition period (i.e. 2023 – 2025).

A producer may satisfy their management requirement by counting the weight of blue box materials they reuse or use to make new products or packaging, subject to criteria in the regulation. For example, producers who use recovered resources for aggregate, can use those recovered resources to account for up to 15 per cent of the producer’s management requirement for any recoverable material category.

The proposed regulation identifies outcomes that would not be eligible to count toward management requirements. For example, if a registered processor sends blue box materials to a landfill or an incinerator, the weight of the blue box materials cannot be used by a producer to meet the producer’s management requirement. Through the Environment Plan, Ontario is investigating opportunities to recover resources from waste, along with reduction, reuse and recycling to ensure that the valuable resources in waste do not end up in landfills.

It is proposed that management requirements would apply to producers of all categories of blue box materials except for:

  • producers of compostable materials, who are subject only to reporting requirements
  • producers who fall below the de minimis thresholds

7. Recycled content

The proposed regulation recognizes the use of recycled content sourced from blue box materials managed in Ontario that is incorporated into new products and packaging. A producer that uses recycled content sources from blue box materials would be allowed to reduce their supply for that material category for the next calendar year in proportion to the initiatives undertaken.

The proposed regulation would limit the overall reduction to no more than 50% for a material category. The proposed regulation establishes a formula for calculating a producer’s management requirement. The proposed regulation would ensure that the use of recycled content does not reduce overall diversion by redistributing the sum of recycled materials used in a given material category amongst all producers in that category.

8. Transition

The Authority’s Datacall indicates that municipalities, unorganized territories, and First Nations delivered 249 local blue box systems in 2018. The proposed regulation would provide certainty as these programs transition to producer responsibility, which would allow producers to find cost efficiencies and municipalities to budget appropriately.

The proposed regulation would transition existing blue box services to producer responsibility in three groups between 2023 and 2025.

The proposed regulation would be accompanied by a “Blue Box Transition Schedule” that identifies eligible communities and the year they are to transition. Producers would be responsible for transitioning communities on or before the dates contained in the schedule.

The ministry developed the proposed “Blue Box Transition Schedule” with a goal of balancing net program costs and materials managed over the three years.

The Ministry also considered municipal preferences for the date of transition. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) canvassed all municipalities and sought their input on when they would like to transition - as of October 2020, 151 municipalities indicated their preference.

To minimize impacts to municipalities, the ministry also considered expiry dates for municipal blue box service contracts and the ability for municipalities to extend current contracts (where this data was available.)

The proposed “Blue Box Transition Schedule” does not assign any municipality a transition date that is earlier than their preference, to minimize the potential for breaking contracts.

To promote economies of scale, the ministry considered geographic continuity when assigning municipalities to a given year. The intent of the groupings is to enable producers to contract for geographic catchments to ensure cost-effective planning and delivery of blue box services over the three years.

At this time, the proposed “Blue Box Transition Schedule” includes municipalities and unorganized territories with blue box programs in the Datacall with the Authority. The “Blue Box Transition Schedule” would be updated when the regulation is finalized to include First Nation reserves and specify certain calendar dates for each transitioning program within a given year, with quarterly transition dates based on contract expiry.

Between the years of 2023 and 2025, the proposed regulation would require producers to provide collection to all eligible sources based on the materials collected and eligible sources serviced by a program as of August 15, 2019. For example, if local blue box services provided collection to residences and multi-unit residential buildings before August 15, 2019, then during transition any residences and multi-unit residential building serviced by the local program would be transitioned to producer responsibility on the date specified in the “Blue Box Transition Schedule”.

The proposed regulation would require producers to maintain collection service types, standards, and levels the same as delivered by the local program until December 31, 2025.

As of January 1, 2026:

  • the service standards contained in the proposed regulation would then apply to the relevant eligible sources
  • producers would also be required to provide services to eligible communities that were not listed in the “Blue Box Transition Schedule”

It is proposed that transition requirements would apply to producers of all categories of blue box materials except for:

  • producers of compostable materials, who are subject only to reporting requirements
  • producers who fall below the minimum de minimis thresholds

9. First Nations

Twenty-four First Nation communities operated blue box programs according to the 2018 Datacall. There are additional First Nation communities that run blue box services that do not report into the datacall and therefore are not part of the current blue box program.

The proposed regulation would require producers to provide the same services to eligible First Nation communities as they provide to eligible municipalities and unorganized territories, including service levels, materials collected, and sources serviced.

Similar to all eligible communities, the proposed regulation would require First Nation communities to register with the Authority. Producers, or their PROs, would then be required to provide each interested community an offer of service. The proposed regulation includes a process for First Nations communities to agree to receiving producer-run blue box services. Once a community agrees to having services, producers would be required to provide blue box services by timelines included in the regulation.

The ministry is proposing to include all eligible First Nation communities that operate blue box services in the transition to full producer responsibility between 2023 and 2025. Producers would be required to provide services to other eligible First Nations communities as of 2026.

At this time, the proposed “Blue Box Transition Schedule” does not include First Nation communities as it would be premature to assign them prospective transition dates before further engagement on this issue.

The ministry will engage with First Nation communities on the proposed regulation for their feedback and to assess how many communities operate blue box services and to assess their preferred timing for transition.

The ministry will update the “Blue Box Transition Schedule” to include eligible First Nation communities based on the outcomes of this engagement.

10. Promotion and education

The proposed regulation sets out promotion and education requirements to educate consumers about producer-run blue box services.

The proposed regulation sets out both permanent and time-limited promotion and education requirements for producers participating in the common collection system or an alternative collection system. The proposed requirements include when materials must be distributed, the languages they must be provided in, and contact information at which persons may make complaints or communicate their concerns. The proposed regulation also identifies core components of promotion and education, including informing Ontarians regarding how and when blue box materials will be collected, and other practices that can improve the quality of collected recyclables and promote access to collection services.

Producers and their PROs would both be legally responsible for providing promotion and education according to the specified requirements.

It is proposed that promotion and education requirements would apply to producers of all categories of blue box materials except for:

  • producers of compostable materials, who are subject only to reporting requirements
  • producers who fall below the minimum de minimis thresholds

11. Registration and reporting

The proposed regulation would minimize regulatory burden on producers by requiring only annual reporting on the information that is needed to assess performance against recovery requirements (i.e. diversion targets),

The Authority would oversee the proposed regulation, including providing for registration, reporting, compliance and enforcement functions.

The proposed regulation would require producers, PROs, eligible communities and processors to:

  • register with the Authority; the proposed regulation sets out the information to be registered and the timelines for submitting information
  • keep records that relate to the establishment and operation of collection and management systems, promotion and education requirements, the supply of blue box materials in Ontario
  • submit reports through the Authority’s Registry, except where a producer is below or meets a de minimis threshold for a material category; the proposed regulation sets out each party’s reporting obligations, including contents of the reports and reporting frequency

The proposed regulation requires producers to have an independent audit conducted every three years by a certified accountant to verify the producer is meeting its management requirements.

To better understand how compostable materials are used in designated products and packaging, producers of compostable materials would be required to register and report annually, including on:

  • The weight of compostable blue box materials supplied annually
  • The standard used to certify compostability of their blue box materials
  • The proportion of materials supplied that was certified under each standard

The Beer Store and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) would be required to report annually on alcohol beverage containers and associated packaging managed by any deposit return programs they operate. The Beer Store would be eligible to report on behalf of the LCBO. Annual reports would need to comply with the auditing standards referenced above.

The regulation proposes that an eligible community and facility would have to register with the Authority to receive blue box services. Registration is not necessary if a facility receives blue box services from an eligible community listed in the Transition Schedule. Eligible communities would have to provide specified information to facilitate the delivery of blue box services by producers.

12. Implementation and governance

The proposed regulation includes a phased-in approach for when specific obligations would take effect:

  • registration requirements would take effect as early as April 1, 2021
  • PROs and others responsible for developing the common collection system would be required to develop rules for the development of an annual allocation table, in which collection from eligible sources will be assigned to producers, if amendments are made to the RRCEA to enable these entities to develop the rules
  • municipal and First Nation on-reserve blue box programs would transition to producer responsibility between 2023 and 2025
  • transition would be completed by January 1, 2026

The Authority would be responsible for:

  • collecting data through its online Registry to oversee and assess performance
  • developing appropriate guidelines for implementation of the regime e.g. Verification and Audit Procedure
  • overseeing the proposed scheme, including the compliance and enforcement activities related to the regulation

13. Ontario Regulation 101/94

Ontario Regulation 101/94, made under the Environmental Protection Act, sets out requirements for municipalities with populations above 5,000 to establish, operate and maintain blue box services, where these municipalities also provide garbage collection services.

Implementation of the proposed producer responsibility for blue box materials would render these requirements obsolete. Producers would be responsible for providing blue box services to residents, not municipalities, as these programs transition to producer responsibility.

The ministry is proposing amendments that would require any local municipality that operates a blue box waste management system as of August 15, 2019 to continue to provide this service until the date included in the “Blue Box Transition Schedule” referenced in the proposed regulation.

The ministry is considering amendments that specify that any local municipality subject to section 7, 8, 9 or 10 of Ontario Regulation 101/94 would no longer be subject to those sections once their blue box waste management system would transition to producer responsibility under the proposed regulation.

The ministry is considering amendments that would repeal sections 7, 8, 9 and 10 of Ontario Regulation 101/94 as of January 1, 2026 when transition to producer responsibility would be complete, and any other amendments that may be required resulting from the transfer to full producer responsibility.

14. Additional questions

In addition to any comments you may provide on the proposed regulation, we are also seeking your input on the following items that could be incorporated into the regulation in the future.

Common collection system: qualification criteria

The proposed regulation sets out qualification criteria that would determine which PROs would be eligible to participate in the development of the rules that govern the common collection system and the annual allocation table.

The ministry is considering requiring financial assurance, a performance bond, or another financial surety product to ensure these persons are well-capitalized and that funds are available to ensure the common collection system can serve eligible communities without disruption.

This kind of financial assurance may be best applied once the rules of the common collection system are established, but before the Producer Responsibility Organizations begin running the system. Alternatively, it could be required as a condition of participating in making the rules.

  • Should producers or PROs be required to provide financial assurance, performance bond, or another financial surety product in order to develop the rules that govern the common collection system? Or should this bond only be required later as a condition of participating in the Common Collection System under the newly established rules?
  • If yes, how would a suitable value be determined?
Common collection system: resolving disputes

If qualified PROs are unable to develop the rules for the common collection system and allocation table, the Minister can establish the rules, pending amendments to the RRCEA to enable such rule-making.

The regulation could be amended later to specify how the parties making the rules can be brought closer to agreement, avoiding the need for the minister to directly regulate prospective rules.

  • Is there a role for processes like mediation or arbitration in reconciling an impasse among PROs during negotiations?
  • Are there other rules or procedures that could help bridge disagreements between the parties?
  • Should the regulation allow for the minister to appoint a representative to make recommendations on the rules if they cannot be developed independently? Are there any considerations that the ministry should be aware of?
Common collection system: access to collected materials

Blue box materials are often stored on and collected from municipal property, such as curbsides, sidewalks, boulevards, and municipally-owned lands used for housing.

These areas may be subject to municipal by-laws that could govern the ownership or access to blue box materials that are put out for collection. This could potentially impede producers in meeting their collection and management obligations under the regulation, should municipal provisions fetter their ability to access blue box materials. It is expected that once municipalities have transitioned their programs, that they would not act in a manner that would prevent a producer from meeting its collection requirements. To this end:

  • Are amendments to the RRCEA needed to affirm that producers own any blue box materials put out for collection?
  • Are provisions required to confirm their ability to access blue box materials on municipal property?
Alternative collection systems: targets

Producers would be exempt from the common collection system if they used an alternative collection system that meets all criteria specified in the regulation for all material categories they supply in Ontario.

Some producers are concerned that a portion of a producer’s materials may still end up in the common collection system, even when this producer operates an alternative system. The ministry is considering requiring producers that use alternative collection systems to meet slightly higher targets to reduce the amount of their materials that end up in the common collection system. For example, an alternative collection system set up to collect foam trays could be required to meet a diversion target of 65% in 2026, rather than the 55% target that would apply for rigid plastic collected in the common collection system.

  • Are higher targets for alternative collection systems an effective way to limit the amount of these materials that end up in the common collection system?
  • If so, how much higher should targets be for alternative collection systems?
Ontario Regulation 101/94: ECA Exemptions

In addition to setting out requirements for municipalities to run blue box services, Ontario Regulation 101/94 also provides for exemptions from Environmental Compliance Approval requirements for municipal recycling depots and sites that meet specified criteria. These exemptions were intended to assist municipalities in developing blue box programs when the regulation was first developed.

  • Once transition to full producer responsibility is complete, should these exemptions be maintained or gradually eliminated?

15. Other public consultation opportunities

The proposed regulation is posted for a 45-day comment period.

The ministry will hold sessions, to seek stakeholder and First Nation communities’ feedback and input on the proposed regulation.

The ministry previously held a series of webinars open to all interested stakeholders in November 2019. Since that time, the ministry established a blue box Stakeholder Working Group that included more than 30 meetings with a range of stakeholders (e.g. representatives of blue box material producers, municipalities, retailers, industry associations, waste management service providers and packaging manufacturers.) The ministry participated in meeting with First Nation communities, including two webinars.

16. Regulatory impact statement

The objectives of the proposal are to make producers responsible for the blue box program and to improve the diversion of waste from landfill.

Implementing the proposal will have positive environmental, social and economic consequences:

  • ensuring proper management of blue box materials and reducing waste sent to landfill by following the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle
  • creating jobs, encouraging investment and growth in Ontario’s material recovery infrastructure and creating demand and markets for recovered blue box materials
  • supporting reduced burden to taxpayers by shifting responsibilities and costs of collection and management to producers and ensuring efficient and consistent collection and management services across Ontario
  • providing producers with more control over waste diversion costs and rewarding producers that reduce the environmental impact of their products by making them easier or more cost-effective to recycle

The environmental objectives would be appropriately achieved by making a regulation that sets out the various requirements for producers to effectively collect and manage blue box material and ensure those materials are being managed in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

Supporting materials

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Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from October 19, 2020
to December 3, 2020

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