Blue Box Transition

Transition Timeline and Glossary

The journey to producer responsibility for Ontario’s Blue Box program has been a long and windy path. If you need a refresher on how we got here, this is a great place to start. Below, in reverse chronological order, are blog posts and resources from the CIF, as well as other relevant news and events from around the Province. Skip down to the glossary for some key definitions on this topic.


CIF Windup Plan approved by RPRA

On Wednesday December 16, 2020 the CIF Windup Plan was approved by the Resource Productivity & Recovery Authority (RPRA). The plan includes important details about the windup and operation of the CIF in coming years. The CIF Windup Plan lays out...


Single-Use Plastics: Ban, recycle or both?

Earlier in October, the Federal government released a discussion paper “A proposed integrated management approach to plastic products”, outlining a proposal to ban single-use plastics starting in 2021. How does the Federal government’s proposed management strategies for single-use packaging align...


Managing Director of the CIF presented on the CIF Windup Plan, as part of RPRA’s consultation process.

The CIF Ontario Recycler Workshop (ORW) was delivered as an online event on October 6 and 8, 2020. With 27 speakers and over 150 attendees, the panels incorporated engaging discussions around what was known and still unknown about transitioning Ontario’s Blue Box program to an Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) framework.

The Resource Productivity & Recovery Authority (RPRA) begun consultations on Stewardship Ontario’s (SO) proposed plan to wind-up the Blue Box Program and transition it to the new Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) framework. Full details are at

The Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks directed Stewardship Ontario to wind up the Blue Box Program and develop a Transition Plan whereby stewards will be made fully responsible for both the funding and operation of residential recycling in the province under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016.

As per the recent Minister’s extension letter, the Transition plan is to be submitted to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) by August 31, 2020. The Minister anticipates RPRA will approve the plan no later than December 31, 2020.

Stewardship Ontario consulted with stakeholders on its Blue Box Transition Plan proposals on June 16 and 17, 2020.

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has granted Stewardship Ontario an extension to submit the windup plan for the Blue Box Program to RPRA, given the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Force Majeure: Are you ready?

A “force majeure” clause is included in contracts to relieve the parties of their obligations in the event of significant unforeseen circumstances that are typically outside of their control. Essentially, it is a contract provision that relieves the parties...


The Government of Ontario hosted a webinar on the development of the new Blue Box regulation(s).

Overall theme

  • ​The new approach will be guided by regulation rather than by a ‘government approved plan’; the Ministry has authority over the RPRA but not over individual ‘actors’
  • With input from consultation, the Ministry will develop the regulation; RPRA is responsible for oversight, compliance and enforcement

The CIF presented at the AMO/CIF Fall 2019 Blue Box Program Update Meetings. The key message was that it is time for all municipalities to start developing a Transition Plan. View the full Powerpoint presentation below.

The CIF has published a sample Committee Report that can be used to update municipal councils on the progress of the Blue Box Transition to Individual Producer Responsibility. The report highlights potential concerns that may specifically impact small, and/or rural municipalities.

An Activity Based Costing (ABC) Model (Excel) is now available. The intent of the model is to support municipalities and provide them with an understanding of the impact they may incur by transitioning to EPR/IPR or alternative options. For more information, please contact CIF Staff.

Watch this two minute video of municipal staff explaining why Council decided to fund a major Activity Based Costing project.

The Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks issued direction to RPRA and Stewardship Ontario to begin to transition the management of Ontario’s Blue Box Program to producers of plastic and other packaging.

A few notable highlights from the announcement and direction letters include:

  • A timeline that regulation(s) will be developed in the coming year and transition will occur in phases over a three-year period from 2023 to 2025.
  • The Continuous Improvement Fund shall receive no additional contributions and shall end as soon as practical prior to December 31, 2025.

Time to Tender or Extend

The potential for the Blue Box Program to transition at any time to an Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) system has put pressure on municipal staff and contractors to manage contracted operations significantly beyond their original terms. Repeated contract extensions...


In June, the Province appointed a Special Advisor on Recycling and Plastic Waste, David Lindsay, to provide advice on how to improve recycling through the Blue Box Program and better manage plastic pollution. Mr. Lindsay facilitated meetings between representatives of the municipal and producer sector to provide input.

On July 20th, the Special Advisor released a report titled “Renewing the Blue Box: Final report on the blue box mediation process”, which outlines recommendations for transitioning the management of Ontario’s Blue Box Program to producers of plastic and other packaging.

Blog Post: CIF launches new toolkit that simplifies full cost accounting for Ontario recycling programs

The CIF has published a Small Municipality Full Cost Accounting Toolkit (Excel), which employs accounting inputs to create a full cost accounting of recycling programs. For more information, email CIF Staff.

Blog Post: Contract Clauses to Prepare Municipalities for Transition

The CIF has compiled a preliminary list of Full Producer Responsibility (FPR) transition clauses that may be used for future RFP/Tender documents and a sample Collection and Processing RFP, including annotations, explanations, better practices and alternate worded clauses.

Key Clauses and Annotated RFP (Word)

Keep Calm It’s RFP Season!

Asking the Right Questions During RFP Planning It’s RFP season! Well in reality, every season is RFP season! RFPs are a top priority for programs this year as it was clearly indicated by the volume of inquiries and the number...


Decision-Making Guide: How to Prepare for Transition

The transition to full producer responsibility (FPR) will see the role of municipalities change dramatically. CIF Project 1017, conducted with the Region of Niagara (Niagara), is designed to walk municipalities through the factors municipalities should consider to determine the...


Armour Township Stays Proactive Amidst Changing Conditions

Photo source: Township of Armour Armour Township is making capital investments in its blue box program. Despite uncertainty around the amended Blue Box Program Plan (a-BBPP), changing markets and municipal partnerships and being a small rural northern municipality, Armour has...


Stewardship Ontario completed the first phase of consultations between October and November 2017. The engagement plan and consultation details are available on Stewardship Ontario’s website.

On December 19, 2017 Stewardship Ontario launched the second phase of consultations with the posting of its draft amended Blue Box Program Plan, followed by a webinar consultation on January 8, 2018. Stewardship Ontario accepted comments on the plan until January 15, 2018.

The Authority prepared a commentary on its role and mandate in the initiative; an assessment of the consultation process to date; and an outline of the actions it will take after receiving an amended Blue Box Program Plan from Stewardship Ontario.

As of February 15, 2018, Stewardship Ontario and the Authority have determined that more time is needed to address the comments received on the draft amended Blue Box Program Plan.

Niagara Prepares for the New World

So, what are you doing to prepare for the proposed amendment to the Blue Box Program Plan (a-BBPP)? The Regional Municipality of Niagara (Niagara) is preparing, with the assistance of CIF staff and funding, by completing an EPR business...


Municipalities owning major Blue Box related assets and businesses may need to value them prior to making decisions to retain or divest Blue Box operations following transition to IPR.

MRF Business Valuation Sample RFP (Word) and RFP Proposal Evaluation Template (Excel)
A sample template for consulting work to obtain a business valuation, strategic option evaluation and market analysis for a MRF processing business.

MRF Land and Building Appraisal Sample RFQ (Word)
A sample RFQ issued by a municipality including the scope of work required to obtain the current local real estate fair market value of an owned MRF building/land excluding process equipment or business assets.

MRF Equipment Valuation Sample RFQ (Word) and Equipment Inventory Template (Excel)
A sample template for listing MRF equipment details for use by the equipment valuation consultant contracted via the RFQ.

One-Stop Shopping for EPR Transition Information

In Ontario, the transition to establish a full Extended Producer Responsibility program to manage Blue Box Recycling under the Waste-Free Ontario Act is well underway and picking up steam. The new approach will mean different things for different programs...


The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change directed the Authority and SO to jointly develop a proposal for an amended Blue Box Program Plan (a-BBPP). A draft was developed and two phases of consultations were completed. A final proposal was never submitted to the ministry.

EPR Update

On November 30, 2016, Waste Diversion Ontario transitioned to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) proclaimed as part of the new Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016 that received Royal Assent in June. This means that RPRA, a new oversight,...


The Waste-Free Ontario Act was proclaimed, which repealed the former WDA and enacted the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act (RRCEA) and the Waste Diversion Transition Act (WDTA). The RRCEA introduced a framework where producers are given full responsibility for the management of post-consumer waste from their packaging. Under this act, the WDO was replaced by a new organization, Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (the Authority).

The legislation also affected existing diversion programs for tires, electronics and hazardous waste.

The CIF has published a Depot Costing Model (Excel), designed to help plan costs to expand, construct and operate depots receiving under 500 tonnes per year of recyclables.

Insights & Information at 2016 CIF Outreach Sessions

CIF staff recently completed spring outreach meetings around the Province, with municipal staff and politicians in Dryden, London, North Bay, Oliver Paipoonge, Peel, Smiths Falls, Spanish and Wawa. Despite some unforgiving late spring weather, participation was as strong as...


Changes in packaging of consumer goods, including the use of less glass, lighter plastics and more difficult to recycle plastics, as well as a decrease in newspapers distributed, has impacted the Blue Box program. According to a report from the Special Advisor on Recycling and Plastic Waste, adjusting for inflation, the average cost of recycling a tonne of Blue Box materials increased by 50 percent from 2003 to 2017.

The Waste Diversion Act (WDA) formalized financial support by requiring producers of printed paper and packaging managed by the Blue Box program to fund up to 50% of municipal net operating costs. Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) was established as a non-crown corporation to develop, implement and operate waste diversion programs, including Blue Box. Stewardship Ontario (SO), was created as an industry organization to represent producers and to develop the Blue Box Program Plan.

Ontario Regulation 101/94 under the Environmental Protection Act set out requirements for municipalities with a population of at least 5,000 to establish and operate curbside Blue Box programs.

It’s good to know where it all started.


Below are some key definitions related to the Blue Box program in Ontario.

Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) is the ministry responsible for administering all the relevant legislation, including the Waste Diversion Transition Act, and the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act.

Producer Responsibility means producers are responsible for managing and paying for the life cycle of their products and packaging. Producer responsibility is based on the idea that the companies that design, create and market products and packaging are in the best position to reduce waste or increase resources that can be recovered from their products.

  • Extended Producer Responsibility refers to expanding the portion of program costs that producers are required to fund.
  • Full Producer Responsibility refers to producers being responsible for both funding and operating.
  • Individual Producer Responsibility refers to producers having a choice in how they meet requirements. They can collect and recycling products and packaging themselves, or contract with producer responsibility organizations (PROs), to help them meet their requirements.

Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA or the Authority) is a regulatory body that is playing a critical role in supporting the transition towards a circular economy and a waste-free Ontario. RPRA receives authority from the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016 (WDTA) to oversee the current waste diversion programs and their eventual wind up. RPRA also receives authority from the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 (RRCEA) to enforce individual producer responsibility requirements for managing waste associated with products and packaging.

Stewardship Ontario (SO) is a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO), funded and governed by the industries that are the brand owners, first importers or franchisors of the products and packaging materials managed under the Blue Box and Orange Drop program. SO collects fees from industry stewards, which help to pay for the costs of collecting, transporting, recycling and safely disposing of waste across the province. Stewardship Ontario operates under the authority in the Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016 and is accountable to RPRA.

The Continuous Improvement Fund (CIF) is a partnership between the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), the City of Toronto, Stewardship Ontario (SO), and the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA). The CIF’s mandate is to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Ontario’s municipal Blue Box program, through the provision of funding, technical support and training to aid municipalities and program stakeholders in the identification and development of best practices and technological and market-based solutions.

Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) was a non-crown corporation, established by the Waste Diversion Act in 2002, with a mandate to develop, implement and operate recyclable waste diversion programs by establishing industry funding organizations and overseeing the development and operation of waste diversion programs. It has now been replaced by the RPRA.