A first look at the proposed new blue box regulation

On Monday, October 19, 2020, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks proposed a new regulation under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 for the blue box. It makes producers of products and packaging fully responsible for the waste they create. The Proposal is posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario for 45 days, and comments are due no later than December 3, 2020.

The top line is that the draft regulation allows for:

  • All 249 local blue box programs identified through RPRA’s 2018 Datacall to transition, regardless of their size or location within the Province, to mandatory servicing by producers, between 2023 and 2025
  • Expansion of blue box services to all local municipalities, local service boards and reserves (outside of the Far North), regardless of their population, including service to multi-unit residential buildings, schools, retirement and long-term care homes and some public spaces starting in 2026
  • Expansion and harmonization of the list of blue box materials to be collected and managed

In the coming weeks, the CIF will be working on a series of regulation themed blogs to help you understand the implications of the various sections of the draft regulation. For now, here are a few initial highlights and links to related CIF resources to help explain what will happen if the regulation is passed as it is in the draft.

Municipalities will register with RPRA

The regulation creates the opportunity for multiple producers and/or Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) to be involved in the collection of materials. To help in the coordination of the various parties delivering blue box services, eligible communities and facilities will have to register with RPRA and provide specific information. This will include the number and location of each residence serviced as of August 15, 2019, as well as a list of depots and public spaces, among other things. The information will then be used in the establishment of an annual allocation table, which will set out how the various producers and/or PROs will be allocated residences, facilities or public spaces each year.

CIF developed a multi-residential database tool for logging all important multi-unit residential building information. The database can be queried to produce specialized reports and could be helpful in organizing the information required for transition.

Contact CIF staff for more details.

Municipalities will not have right of first refusal

While the regulation is explicit in ensuring producers and/or PROs provide blue box service to every eligible source in every eligible community, it does not require them to offer municipalities the right of first refusal to provide those collection services as was the case in British Columbia when that province transitioned to full producer responsibility.

This topic came up at the Ontario Recycler Workshop

For municipalities seeking opportunities to remain engaged in service delivery, listen to the advice provided by a collection service provider.

Transition schedule shows which year municipalities will transition

The proposed regulation provides 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. At this time, the proposed schedule does not include First Nation communities, as the Ministry is planning further engagement with these communities on this issue. The schedule will be updated based on those discussions.

It is important to note the that the transition schedule is draft. If you do have concerns with the date your community might be scheduled to transition, you still have an opportunity to provide feedback to ensure the Province understands any issues as part of the 45-day consultation period.

If your community was not assigned their preferred transition date, and you need assistance in determining the financial impact associated with this, check out the IPR Transition Financial Planning Model and contact us to get on the wait list for the next training session.

Specific calendar dates not yet provided

The schedule provides the year in which communities transition, but it does not yet contain the specific calendar date. The Schedule will be updated when the regulation is finalized to include these. For those communities that either did not request a transition date, or were not scheduled to transition on the date they requested, consider the advice given in the CIF blog “Force Majeure: Are you ready?” Other helpful information can be found on the CIF website under RFPs and Contract Key Clauses, or by revisiting the ORW Panel 4: Ask an Expert.

Need help?

There will be more blog posts to come that dive deeper into the draft regulations and what they mean for municipalities. In the meantime, AMO is hosting a webinar next Wednesday, November 4, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. to walk municipalities and First Nations groups through the document. Also, in addition to the CIF resources linked above, there are many more CIF transition-related project reports and blog posts on the website.

CIF staff are always available by phone or email to help you navigate our website to find the resources you’re in search of, and to discuss your transition support needs. What’s more, we’ll also be looking for your input on any additional resources you may need us to develop. Reach out today!