Ontario’s new blue box regulation and resources for the road ahead

As announced Thursday June 3, Ontario’s new blue box regulation (O. Reg. 391/21) under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 has been finalized and is now published on e-Laws at: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r21391

The regulation, which will transition Ontario’s blue box program to an Individual Producer Responsibility framework, brings into focus the path ahead for current municipal and First Nation blue box program operators. Some initial highlights are outlined below.

Information about the regulation can also be found on RPRA.ca.

Specific transition dates now available

For the 253 municipalities, local service boards and First Nation communities that provided blue box services in 2019 under the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016, Producers will begin to assume operational and financial responsibility for delivering these services starting July 1, 2023, and finishing the transition by December 31, 2025. Specific transition dates for municipalities are outlined in the Transition Schedule.

Registration deadline end of September

Municipalities or local service boards are required to report preliminary information about their current blue box collection systems to RPRA on or before September 30, 2021. First Nation communities are required to report on or before November 30, 2021. Deadlines for additional registration requirements are also set, depending on the year your community will transition:

  • September 30, 2021 for communities transitioning in 2023
  • August 31, 2022 for communities transitioning in 2024
  • August 31, 2023 for communities transitioning in 2025

Eligible sources

As written in the final regulation, eligible sources, to which a producers will have a duty to collect, include permanent and seasonal dwellings; multi-unit residential buildings; elementary and secondary schools, long-term care homes & retirement homes (excluding for-profit operations), as well as specified public spaces. With respect to public spaces, producers are to provide and collect from a minimum number of bins per capita and provide flexibility to place bins in parks, playgrounds, sidewalks and public transit stations and stops, according to a frequency that would collect materials from the receptacles before they would ordinarily be full.

Service standards during transition period

The service standards during the transition period were amended to allow Producers the option to either:

  1. provide collection services consistent with what a local community delivered as of August 15, 2019, or
  2. provide collection according to the 2026 service standards, including all designated materials.

In both options, producers must maintain the collection frequency previously provided by the municipality until 2026. As of January 1, 2026, producers would also be required to provide services to eligible communities that were not listed in the Transition Schedule.

Current service providers will not have a right of first refusal

As was in the draft, the regulation does not require Producers and/or PROs 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.

Resources, Training and Support

As many already know, the CIF has been working behind the scenes for months to anticipate what our stakeholders will need to navigate this transition. In partnership with AMO’s Municipal Resource Recovery and Research Collaborative (M3RC), the CIF launched a Transition Working Group to develop a range of tools, templates and training packages that will help prepare all Ontario municipalities and First Nations communities to transition their blue box programs to the Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) framework.

The Transition Working Group subcommittees are currently developing:

  • guidance for how to determine and register all eligible sources (e.g., single and multi-family sites)
  • contract management training to address service delivery concerns in the lead up to transition
  • decision trees and asset valuation assistance to help plan for a smooth transition

CIF will also be hosting Transition Planning Sessions in the coming months to help with the identification of critical collection, administrative changes and subsequent decisions resulting from transition. The course will provide guidance on how to address them and help municipalities and First Nations groups to begin to build out transition plans that meet their individual needs.

But, what about….

Now that the final blue box regulation is available, you may have questions about how it will impact your specific situation. Send us your questions, using the form here. Our team will review the submissions and yours may be featured in a future blog.  As always, contact CIF staff to discuss your transition support needs.