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Ontario's got the blue box blues

Aug. 11, 2019

Ontario is rethinking the blue box as municipalities are forced to dump more and more property tax dollars into the recycling program.

The ground-breaking program was supposed to pay for itself through the sale of material and diversion from expensive landfill, but Environment Minister Jeff Yurek said costs are soaring and about 30% of blue box waste ends up in the dump, anyway.

The province is now trying to figure out how to hand over responsibility for the program to the companies that produce the material while still protecting the curb-side pick up so popular with residents.

“We want to make it as smooth a transition as possible,” Yurek said. “I think the pick up at homeowners’ places right now would stay the same except I would envision that there would be more product placed into the blue box that would be recycled.”

Advisor David Lindsay’s blue box report, commissioned by the Ontario government and released last week, recommended producer responsibility for the program be phased in fully by 2025.

Lindsay’s report noted that diversion rates have stalled at about 60% for more than a decade, as the glass, newsprint and steel containers that once filled the iconic blue plastic tub are increasingly replaced with difficult-to-recycle black plastic, plastic films, laminates and polystyrene.

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