Proposed blue box regulation details eligible sources and service standards

The proposed new Blue Box regulation under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016, released by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) on October 19, 2020, details the eligible sources for collection and service standards required during and after transition.


Residences, facilities and public spaces considered eligible sources

The proposed new blue box regulation groups eligible sources into three categories: residences, facilities and public spaces. Based on the definitions of those terms provided in the draft regulation, Producers will be required to collect from single family households, multi-family households, apartments attached to businesses within Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), seasonal residential dwellings including residential trailer parks, long term care homes, retirement homes, public and private schools (elementary and secondary), public spaces (e.g., parks, playgrounds), and streetscape bins in BIAs.

The proposed new regulation does not require provision of recycling service by Producers to the:

  • businesses in BIAs
  • small businesses located throughout residential routes
  • service clubs (e.g., Lions or Rotary Clubs), or places of worship
  • municipal facilities, such as community centres, arenas, pools, or municipal office buildings

While not currently required, some municipalities offer recycling collection to non-residential sites to help preserve local landfill space. They also do so as it provides the opportunity to deliver consistent servicing and messaging to the resident whether they are at home or away from home. If the draft regulation is approved as written, municipalities will need to determine whether or not to continue servicing these sites.

During transition period, service standards equal or exceed August 2019 levels

If you have a program today, look to the transition schedule to see when your community will transition. All eligible sources serviced as of August 15, 2019 will receive service in the transition year provided. This means, for example, if you serviced schools as of August 15, 2019, schools would receive service during transition. If you started collecting from schools post August 15, 2019, these will not be collected by producers until after 2026. The proposed regulation also requires that during the transition period Producers provide service standards that equal or exceed the service standards applicable in that community on August 15, 2019.

Service is proposed to be expanded to all eligible, non-serviced communities, including unorganized territories, and reserves located outside the Far North, including communities with populations below 5,000 starting in 2026.

Service standard refers to details such as curbside, depot, single or dual stream, collection frequency, etc.

If a municipality is considering changes to a program, they should consider the new Datacall User Guide guidelines (page 10).

After transition period, potential for change to service standards

It is important to note that once all municipal blue box programs are transitioned, by the end of 2026, the draft regulation removes the requirement for Producers to provide depot collection in communities that provide curbside collection to all residents. Most communities with curbside servicing currently supplement curbside collection with depots. These depots provide an important outlet for consumers especially if collections days are missed or for larger amounts / sizes of materials. Again, if the draft regulation is approved as written, municipalities will need to consider how this potential change may impact their community.

Time to move forward with transition planning

With what we know now about the proposed eligible sources, service requirements and standards, communities across the Province can begin to consider the operational and financial implications of the various aspects of the proposed regulation if it is approved as drafted.

In the case of ineligible sources, municipalities will need to decide whether to continue servicing them at their own cost or to transfer the costs where possible. Given the strain on municipal budgets in the aftermath of COVID-19, local governments will want to understand the financial impact and diversion opportunities now in order to ready themselves for the choices they may need to make as a result of transition. Our CIF Blog from June 15, 2020, provides insights into how to move forward. Similarly, consideration should be given to how to manage a change in the Producer’s requirement to deliver depot services in communities with curbside service.

How can we help?

The CIF team is currently looking for input from municipalities regarding their transition planning needs. Transition Planning Sessions are being prepared for early 2021 to address issues like those highlighted in this blog. Your questions and inquiries will be used to help build out the course.

Looking for Transition Resources Today?

There are many more CIF transition-related project reports and blog posts on this 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. Reach out today!

Remember! The MECP’s proposal is currently posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario, and comments are due no later than December 3, 2020.