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Ford government to overhaul Blue Bin program

Last Updated Oct 19, 2020 at 11:47 am EST

Plastic bottles in a recycling bin. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mario Beauregard

The Ford government is changing who will be responsible for the Blue Box recycling program as well as expanding the items that can be put into the blue box itself.

Ontario’s Environment Minister Jeff Yurek announced on Monday that producers of products and packaging will be fully responsible for the Blue Box program.

The Blue Box program is currently run by the Ontario Stewardship Council with the cost split among the municipalities. But the Ford government will shift to a new model where producers of the waste – businesses – will provide blue box collection and pay for the entire cost.

The government claims the move will result in an estimated savings of $135 million annually for municipalities.

Government officials say there should not be any interruption to the program during the transition, saying that those who have curbside blue box collection now will continue to have it under the new system. The government also says the Beer Store’s deposit return program can continue under the new producer responsibility model.

The transition is set to take effect at different times across the province with Toronto set to make the shift in 2023.

The government also announced that the list of materials accepted in the blue box will increase to include paper and plastic cups, wraps, foils, trays, bags and other single use items such as stir sticks, straws, cutlery and plates.

“We’re creating a stronger and more effective Blue Box program that actually works,” said Minister Yurek.

“By harnessing the innovation and ingenuity of industry and expanding recycling opportunities for people and businesses across the province, we can divert more waste away from landfills by finding new purposes for products and reinserting them back into the economy.”

The Ford government will also expand blue box services to include apartment buildings, long-term care homes, schools and municipal parks in 2026.

Ontario is the birthplace of the blue-box. The curbside recycling program was first introduced in Kitchener in 1981.

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