This consultation closes at 11:59 p.m. on:
June 16, 2023
We are proposing minor amendments to the blue box regulation (O. Reg. 391/21) to provide clarity to producers on their blue box obligations and support a smooth transition to a full producer responsibility framework.
On June 3, 2021, Ontario finalized a new blue box regulation (O. Reg. 391/21) to make producers responsible for collecting and managing paper, packaging, and single-use items.
The new approach improves the blue box system by providing consistent service that will reduce litter and allow more materials to be recycled in more communities.
Ontario is working to create a stronger and more effective blue box service and has started the process of transitioning to a producer responsibility model.
To provide clarity to producers on their blue box obligations and support a smooth transition to a full producer responsibility framework, we are proposing minor changes to the blue box regulation to:
- expand permitted deductions used to set management requirements
- harmonize annual reporting deadlines with other jurisdictions
These proposed changes will not impact how the public receives blue box collection services or diversion targets set by the blue box regulation.
Expand permitted deductions
The blue box regulation requires producers to report on the amount of blue box material (e.g., paper, packaging, and single-use items) they supplied to consumers in Ontario. This supply reporting determines how much material producers need to manage to meet requirements under the regulation.
The regulation allows producers to deduct materials from their annual supply to reflect that some materials are not managed by the blue box system.
Under the blue box regulation, producers can currently deduct:
- materials generated and managed at the site where the blue box material was supplied and used or consumed (e.g., food packaging at an eat-in restaurant)
- materials removed from homes or facilities upon installation and/or delivery (e.g., appliance boxes)
We are proposing to expand permitted deductions to allow producers to deduct the weight of blue box materials managed outside the blue box system (see details below).
The proposed amendments would better align producers’ obligations with the amount of their material that is collected in the blue box system. This will maintain the integrity of the blue box system and ensure that producers’ supply data better aligns with their collection requirements.
The proposal to expand permitted deductions includes a suite of amendments that would provide for outcomes described below:
What can be deducted:
Amendments would clarify that producers could deduct materials collected from industrial, commercial and institutional sources that producers are not required to provide blue box collection services to under the blue box regulation.
These locations would include:
- businesses and commercial sources (e.g., office buildings)
- recreational facilities (e.g., arenas)
- some institutions (e.g., hospitals)
The provision in the regulation to allow producers to deduct materials removed from a consumer’s premises upon delivery would remain.
What cannot be deducted:
Blue box material collected from eligible sources:
Proposed amendments would not allow producers to deduct materials managed in locations or systems that are part of the blue box system, such as:
- residences (e.g., homes)
- facilities (e.g., apartments, condominiums, designated retirement and long-term care homes, schools)
- public spaces (e.g., sidewalk and park recycling bins; public transit stations or stops)
This would ensure that producer management obligations include all materials available for collection in regulated collection locations under the regulation.
Blue box material collected from supplemental and alternative collection systems:
Amendments would not allow producers to deduct materials collected through:
- registered supplemental collection systems that producers use to supplement their collection results achieved through the blue box system
- alternative collection systems that producers use in place of the blue box system to achieve their collection results
Examples of supplemental or alternative collection systems could include retail take-back programs or mail-back programs.
This would reflect that blue box materials collected by supplemental and alternative systems are intended to be used to meet producer management targets, and therefore should be reflected in producer supply reporting.
Additional technical changes:
Additional technical changes are necessary to support expanding deductions and maintain the original intent of the regulation.
The ministry is proposing amendments to clarify that:
- beverage containers cannot be deducted
- materials that are deducted cannot count toward a producers’ management targets
These proposed amendments reflect the original policy intent of the blue box regulation but are not provided for in the current regulation. Making these changes will provide certainty to producers as well as to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) who is responsible for oversight and compliance of the blue box regulation.
Update annual reporting deadline
We are also proposing to update annual reporting deadlines in the blue box regulation from April 30 to May 31.
This change would create alignment with similar reporting requirements in other jurisdictions.
If approved, the majority of the proposed amendments would come into effect on July 1, 2023.
Existing reporting obligations for 2023 remain unchanged.
Expanded deductions would take effect starting in 2023, with impacted producers having the opportunity to resubmit their deductions for 2023 by July 31, 2023.
Deductions reported in 2023 would be used to set producer obligations for 2024.
Summary of Regulatory Impact Analysis:
The proposed changes are not expected to significantly impact costs as they simply adjust each producer’s proportion of costs to better reflect which materials and locations are in the blue box system.
While the proposed change to expand deductions will reduce operational costs for some producers as a result of having lower management targets, the overall cost to operate the blue box system will not change and therefore the net cost impact to all businesses is zero. The other proposed changes related to reporting deadlines will have no cost impacts.
There are no direct compliance cost implications to any other parties as a result of the proposed regulatory amendment, including RPRA, consumers, the government, and municipalities.
Background: Ontario’s producer responsibility framework and the blue box regulation
Ontario’s producer responsibility framework under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 (RRCEA) was established to make producers environmentally accountable and financially responsible for the waste generated from regulated products and packaging they supply into Ontario.
In June 2021, the government approved the blue box regulation (O. Reg. 391/21) under the RRCEA that will make producers responsible for collecting and managing paper, packaging, and single-use items they supply to consumers in Ontario. Municipal and First Nation blue box programs will begin transitioning to full producer responsibility on July 1, 2023. By January 1, 2026, producers will be fully responsible for funding and operating blue box programs across the province, outside the Far North. This will result in one common collection system for blue box across the province (i.e., the “blue box system”).
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