On August 15, 2019, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks issued direction to RPRA and Stewardship Ontario to begin transitioning the management of Ontario’s Blue Box Program to producers of plastic and other packaging. This will enable the transition of materials collected under the program to individual producer responsibility under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016. The Blue Box Program will transition to the new regulatory framework for resource recovery starting on July 1, 2023 through to December 31, 2025.
On June 3, 2021, the Government of Ontario released the final Blue Box Regulation under the RRCEA requiring producers to establish and operate systems for the collection, recycling and reuse of blue box materials. Visit our Blue Box Regulation page for information about the new regulation, including what materials are obligated, regulatory requirements for specific roles (e.g. producer, PRO, processor, municipality, First Nation community), key dates and deadlines, and FAQs.
For municipalities and First Nation communities that currently provide blue box services, producers are responsible for delivering these services starting July 1, 2023 through to December 31, 2025. Specific transition dates for municipalities are outlined in the Transition Schedule. The Transition Schedule will be updated to include First Nation communities after engagement with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has taken place.
Under the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016, the Authority is responsible for overseeing the orderly wind up of current waste diversion programs and the industry funding organizations responsible for managing those programs.
During the transition, Stewardship Ontario will continue to operate the Blue Box Program without disruption. Please continue to contact them directly for any operational inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wind-up plan development and approval process
On April 3, 2020, the Minister extended the deadline for Stewardship Ontario to submit its proposed Blue Box Program Wind-up Plan to the Authority to August 31, 2020, instead of June 30, 2020. Read the direction letter.
The extension was requested by SO due to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure meaningful consultation with stakeholders. The plan must still meet the requirements outlined in the Minister’s August 15, 2019 direction letter, including the expectation of the Authority to review, consult on and approve the plan no later than December 31, 2020. The timelines for the wind-up of the Blue Box Program and transition to the individual producer responsibility framework also remain the same.
SO held webinar consultations on the Blue Box Program Wind-up Plan on June 16 and 17, 2020. Review the consultation materials.
SO submitted its plan to the Authority by the August 31, 2020 deadline. Between September 30 and November 10, 2020, the Authority consulted on the proposed plan with municipalities, First Nation communities, stewards, and other interested stakeholders. The Authority approved SO’s wind-up plan, with conditions, on December 16, 2020, as well as the Continuous Improvement Fund’s (CIF) wind-up plan and changes to its governance structure, which was included, by reference, in SO’s wind-up plan. Learn more about the Authority’s consultation process.
On February 11, 2021, SO submitted a plan addressing measures to further mitigate conflict of interest and undue commercial advantage to the Authority as outlined in Condition #2 of the Authority’s approval of the wind-up plan in December 2020. The Authority approved the plan on March 31, 2021. Read the approval letter.
In January 2022, SO submitted a proposal to simplify the fee-setting methodology for Blue Box Program stewards during the program’s transition period between 2023-2025. On February 17, 2022, RPRA approved the proposal, with conditions. Those conditions required Stewardship Ontario to provide a comprehensive plan for determining the recovery rate of the Blue Box Program through to the transition of the program in 2025. On May 3, 2022, RPRA approved the plan, which satisfied the conditions and allowed Stewardship Ontario to implement its simplified fee-setting methodology.
Ontario’s Special Advisor on recycling and plastic waste
In June 2019, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks appointed David Lindsay as a Special Advisor on recycling and plastic waste. Mr. Lindsay engaged with stakeholders to identify and develop a common understanding of key operational issues in order to provide a clear path for the transition of the Blue Box Program to individual producer responsibility.
In early August, Mr. Lindsay delivered a report to the Minister, based on insights gathered from mediation sessions with stakeholders, that outlined recommendations for transitioning the management of the Blue Box Program to producers of plastic and other packaging. The report offered ideas to improve recycling and increase the number of products that can be recycled, while ensuring the program continues to be accessible and convenient.
Recommendations from the report helped inform the ministry’s next steps in transitioning the Blue Box Program to producer responsibility.