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Blue/Red Box Transition to Producers

As of August 28th, 2024, responsibility for recycling collection and processing will transition from the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority (EWSWA) to producers of packaging and paper products due to new regulations in Ontario published on June 1, 2021. This is part of a three-year province-wide transition to “Extended Producer Responsibility”.  The transition to Extended Producer Responsibility will be complete by the end of 2025.

What this means for residential curbside collection services?

The Producer Responsibility Organization who is overseeing the common collection system and its contracts is Circular Materials. Circular Materials is responsible to ensure that Blue/Red Box Recycling collection services are status quo for Essex-Windsor residents during Transition (August 28, 2024 to December 31, 2025). This means that all inquiries/issues (collection issues, box requests, etc.) must be reported direct to Circular Materials as the EWSWA will no longer have jurisdiction over this program. In 2026, Circular Materials can look to make changes to this program as it will be in full Extended Producer Responsibility, as long as it supports Ontario Regulation 391/21. With regards to all your other collection services (garbage, yard waste, large items, etc.) these programs will continue to be serviced by your municipality, so all issues/inquiries for these services must go direct to your municipality.

For more information on EPR, visit the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority

Transition FAQS

Producer Responsibility means producers (the companies that design, create and market products and packaging) are fully responsible for managing and paying for the life cycle of their products and packaging.

Producer Responsibility looks at the entire life-cycle of a product to ensure effective production and management of packaging occurs to reduce overall waste. This cycle includes:

  • Producer using recycled materials to manufacture products and market them
  • Retailer selling the products
  • Consumer buying and using the products
  • Producer being responsible to collect, process, recycle and dispose of the packaging and products
  • Producer using recycled materials to manufacture products and market them

In August 2019, the Government of Ontario announced plans to transition responsibility for the provincial recycling system from municipalities and First Nations over to producers. The province’s intention with this shift is to make recycling easier for people and to ensure that the recycling program remains viable over the long-term by:

  • Ensuring a common collection system, province-wide;
  • Creating a standard list of materials that can be recycled across the province;
  • Saving taxpayers money by transitioning recycling programs from municipal management to producer management;
  • Promoting waste diversion by setting province-wide targets;
  • Possibly expanding recycling services to parks and public spaces across Ontario.
  • Innovating new and alternative collection methods to divert materials that can't be recycled by the Blue Box Program or that might contaminate collected materials.

In mid-1990’s municipalities were legislated to provide Blue Box recycling programs for their residents.

The provincial government, municipalities, producers and service providers have been discussing Producer Responsibility since the early 2000’s. The Waste Reduction Act of 2002 introduced a requirement for producers to partially fund diversion programs that were administered by municipalities.

Various pieces of legislation have been introduced since 2013 with the goal of transitioning the full cost of waste diversion programs to producers. The Special Advisor on Recycling and Plastic Waste report, prepared for the province in 2019, recommended specific timelines for transitioning Blue Box Programs from municipalities to producers.

Based on these timelines, the Province announced next steps for moving responsibility for recycling away from municipalities and over to the private sector producers of packaging and paper products.

 The Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority is a non-Crown oversight body that has compliance and enforcement powers to ensure producers are complying with regulations.

As part of this transition, Ontario is developing regulations to support the new Producer Responsibility model for the recycling program. These regulations will address items such as:

  • ensuring access to recycling services for Ontarians
  • eligible materials that can be recycled at curbside
  • diversion targets for producers
  • reporting requirements for producers/service providers

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