Blue Box Transition

The Path to IPR for Small Communities

Ontario’s Blue Box program is changing from a shared responsibility funding and governance model to an Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) model. The proposed changes were introduced in a draft Blue Box Regulation tabled in October 2020, and a new final Regulation is anticipated shortly.

The new IPR approach to funding and delivering Blue Box services in Ontario will require local communities to make important decisions regarding how their recycling program is operated during and after the transition period when individual producers and their service Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) assume full responsibility for recycling costs, procuring operators, and compliance with new performance requirements.

Where Municipalities & First Nations Fit In

Small Community Ontario Recycler Workshop

Smaller recycling programs, which represent nearly 200 of the over 240 local recycling programs in Ontario (Groups 5-9), have unique challenges during this transition. They often:

  • Do not have dedicated recycling or waste management staff who can closely monitor regulatory changes
  • Have unique challenges associated with rural or northern operational and service provider issues
  • Share facilities or operating contracts with other programs, adding to the complexity of change decisions

To assist small communities in understanding and preparing for system change, CIF held a special Ontario Recycler Workshop for small local programs on March 4th. Over 90 Municipalities and First Nation communities registered to participate.

The morning session provided an overview of the proposed changes and included an update from Dave Gordon representing the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). The session highlighted how local programs can prepare for the transition while ensuring continuity of service quality to residents as the proposed new Regulations introduce:

  • Higher performance requirements for material recovery
  • Possible changes to what sources of material will be eligible for service
  • A shift of financial and operational responsibility to producers and PROs

The transition is proposed to occur over a three year period beginning in 2023 as shown to the left.

Small Community Discussion Groups

In the afternoon session, participants were streamed into facilitated small groups and shared their individual experiences, concerns and tips for dealing with recycling transition.

Some of the key outcomes of the breakout discussions and areas identified as requiring more assistance were:

  • The role of PROs and how they will interact with local programs, especially in underserviced rural and northern regions
  • Understanding potential changes to eligible sources and service levels, as well as the timing and requirements of the data registry
  • The need for ‘drag and drop’ P&E transition content that can be used by small communities that do not have specialized communications staff

The session wrapped up with a preview of the new structures, tools and training which are in development to provide support throughout the transition. This includes a newly formed joint M3RC/CIF Transition Working Group with five specialized sub-committees to co-ordinate local community efforts. The Working Group will identify information gaps and prepare tools and models to help local programs analyze the impact of transition on their own program and modify related contracts, operations and communications with Council and residents. Nearly 60 local community staff members have volunteered their time to participate on the sub committees which will kick off at the end of March.

Additional CIF Training Planned

Local communities, small and large, will require continuing, comprehensive education and training as transition progresses. The CIF is planning a wide range of training sessions throughout 2021 and onwards. Watch for details to be released soon on how to register for a series of spring training sessions which will provide further insight into:

  • Transition & regulation requirements
  • Tools & models to assist transition decision making in local communities
  • Analysing the impact of local recycling decisions on broader waste system

Check the CIF website regularly to stay on top of these rapidly developing events.