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Amended blue box program will save taxpayer dollars

Date September 12, 2017 Author Lucy Robinson Categories Industry News | Member News | News

Residents shouldn't see a change in curbside recycling collection if a new plan to transfer all the costs to producers is implemented.

"You should not notice anything, at least initially," said Jon Arsenault, director of the region's waste management division.

The blue box program may even get better down the road with more materials collected at the curb.

And it will save taxpayers money.

The region pays an estimated $2 million to $4 million annually on recovering packaging, from collection to processing. While there is some revenue from the program, "it does not by any means cover our costs," Arsenault told regional councillors at a committee meeting Tuesday.

Currently, the cost to run programs for collecting and recycling paper products and packaging is split roughly 50/50 between municipalities and the companies that produce the items. The new Waste-Free Ontario Act passed last November will transfer full responsibility, both operation and expense, to producers.

That's the model in several European countries and in British Columbia.

While the legislation is in place, the regulations are not yet in place in Ontario. Considering the cost to municipalities, they're keen to have producers take over responsibility as soon as possible — ideally before the upcoming provincial election in June to avoid further delay. The cost to municipalities across Ontario is estimated at $130 million for each year the transition to full producer responsibility is delayed.

Several associations — the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Municipal Waste Association, the Regional Public Works Commissioners of Ontario, and the City of Toronto — are working together with the group representing the producers to create an implementation plan, overseen by the province and ultimately needing its approval.

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