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Industry NewsOntario overhauls recycling program: producers take on responsibility

Ontario overhauls recycling program: producers take on responsibility

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The Ontario government has overhauled its plan for a new curbside recycling program that will see producers of household recyclables such as grocers, CPG companies and restaurants, become responsible for the cost and the running of the program.

The new regulation will come into force July 1, 2023, in Toronto and will then expand across the entire province.

“When municipalities and First Nation communities start transitioning their Blue Box programs to the new framework, Blue Box producers will become fully accountable and financially responsible for collecting and recycling their materials when consumers discard them,” says the Resource Productivity & Recovery Authority, the regulator mandated by the Ontario government to enforce the province’s circular economy laws.

Under the current system, municipalities spilt costs of running separate blue box programs between cities and the companies that produce and sell recyclable products.

Grocery Business reached out to industry groups, including the Retail Council of Canada and Food, Health and Consumer Products of Canada about the impact the changes will have on the grocery industry.

Michelle Wasylyshen, national spokeswoman for the Retail Council of Canada (RCC), says that the organization supports the April 19 amendments to the Blue Box regulation.

“These changes streamline the development of a common collection system. It is RCC’s belief that, with these new adjustments, there is a strong path to a centrally planned approach to curbside collection and material recycling. We expect that a unified and centralized approach will bring the efficiencies, innovation and investment needed as Ontario works to further drive diversion from landfill and develop a circular economy. We look forward to remaining actively involved as a trade association, representing the needs of our retailers, as Ontario strives to achieve some of the highest recycling targets in North America.”

Michelle Saunders, vice president, sustainability, for Food, Health and Consumer Products of Canada, says the association supports the amendments to Ontario’s Blue Box regulation.

“Ontario’s blue box regulation will require producers, generally brand holders and retailers, to assume full financial and operational responsibility for the delivery of curbside recycling programs for packaging. Gone are the days of companies submitting reports and paying a bill for recycling fees. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) will require ongoing engagement and will place obligations on companies to ensure their materials are collected and recycled in practice.  This is a critical step to achieving a circular economy for plastics.”

And while FHCP supports the amendments, Saunders says they “are disappointed that the newspaper industry has been exempted from obligations. FHCP continues to pursue a level playing field for all producers, in all provinces.

FHCP says EPR is a significant undertaking, and it’s why FHCP worked with Retail Council of Canada and Canadian Beverage Association to support a group of companies in establishing Circular Materials, launched last year, as the only industry-led not-for-profit Producer Responsibility Organization to work with producers from across industry to meet their obligations. 

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