In 2019, the Ontario Government announced the intention to change the Blue Box Program, a cost-sharing structure between municipalities and suppliers of packaged goods for the collection and removal of packaging, with suppliers paying a fee to Stewardship Ontario. The new proposed system is an ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ (EPR) program, with companies fully responsible for costs.
In November 2020, a draft regulation for the EPR was released for comment with the intended final regulation in early 2021.
The program will roll out by geographic region from 2023 – 2025. During this time Stewardship Ontario will remain in place, with fees payable to them. After 2026, Stewardship Ontario will wind up and fees will not be set centrally. Fees will be determined by individual contracts between producers and their chosen Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) who will be responsible for the collection and diversion of the packaging to recycling. PRO’s are not yet established.
‘Producer’ is defined as ‘the person that made the decision to supply the packaging with a product supplied to Ontario consumers. This may be the brand holder who is resident in Canada, or the importer resident in Ontario, or, where no importer is resident in Ontario, then the retailer. The OPMA has called for more clarity on the brand holder as this has the potential for confusion.
Producers will be required to report annually on the amount recycled to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) and achieve a management requirement listed as percentage diverted. This amount can be by direct recycling or as recovered Resources where a producer may count the weight of blue box materials that they reuse or use to make new products/packaging up to 15% of the requirement. Additionally, if a producer uses recycled content from blue box materials, they can reduce their supply for that category the next year up to 50%. Registration with RPRA is expected to commence in April 2021.
Proposed Target: 2026-2029
Proposed Target: 2030-onward
Producers and their PROs would both be legally responsible for providing promotion and education according to the specified requirements.
This regulation is not specific to fresh produce, all packaged products such as beverages, personal care and other items will all be covered by the same legislation.
The federal government supports the introduction of EPR programs and has indicted they will work to ensure harmonisation across the different programs.
For more information:
Proposed Regulation for Extended Producer Responsibility
Blue Box Program Windup Plan
Blue Box Transition Schedule
The OPMA Packaging Round Table
The group of OPMA members was established in 2020 to be a voice for the Ontario industry on issues related to the use and recycling of packaging; to support the industry to use cost-effective, sustainable packaging solutions; and to ensure produce packaging supplied to Ontario consumers is part of a circular economy. For more information contact Michelle Broom. OPMA President.