Council wants blue box program transitioned to full producer responsibility by January 1, 2025

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MINDEMOYA – The municipality of Central Manitoulin council has indicated it would like a transition of their blue box program going to full producer responsibility by January 1, 2025.

“It is the producers who are producing these waste items that should be paying for this, like the LCBO and the Brewers Retail does for bottles,” said Central Manitoulin Councillor Derek Stephens at a council meeting last week. “I believe this program needs to be put in place. Then we would see a decrease in our current contract and it would save on our landfill.”

This comes after council had considered a motion from its water, waste and education committee that states in part that the amount of single-use plastics leaking into our lakes, rivers and waterways is a growing area of public concern. The motion notes that the municipality would be supportive of a timely, seamless and successful transition of blue box programs to full financial and operational responsibility by producers of packaging, paper and paper products.”

Councillor Stephens said the municipality is looking at a significant increase in its current contract to a company that takes care of these types of waste products. “In my first term on council I can remember garbage pickup for the municipality and on one road we would see mounds of glass-waste being piled up—it was after this municipalities in the province went after the LCBO and the government and right after the producers had to start providing refunds on these glass products, and the amount of glass around was drastically reduced. I believe this new proposed program needs to be in place.”

“I don’t know what is wrong with Ontario when 80 percent of water bottles etc. are landfilled,” stated Councillor Dale Scott. “In our province how can that be? Plastic bottles are one of our biggest polluters. It defeats the whole idea of waste management.” 

He said if the province doesn’t establish that producers need to be responsible for the blue box-type items, then the municipality needs to look at its options internally. He pointed out the cost of getting rid of recyclables in the municipality is “$180,000 now and it won’t be long these costs will rise to $200,000 per year. I’m also upset the company allows glass in garbage bags because they refuse to pick this up for recycling.”

“If we pass this motion the costs of glass and plastic would be the manufacturers’ responsibility,” said Councillor Stephens.

The Central Manitoulin water, waste and education committee had recommended council support an Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) letter/resolution in support of the province of Ontario looking at making producers having full fiscal and operational responsibility for end-of-life management of their packaging, printed paper and paper products within five years. It was noted in background information to municipalities from AMO that municipal governments have been advocating for this for over a decade as producers are best positioned to reduce waste, increase the resources that are recovered and reincorporated into the economy and enable a consistent province-wide system that makes recycling easier and more accessible.

In August 2019, Minister Jeff Yurek announced that municipal blue box programs will be transitioned to full producer responsibility over a three-year period based on the recommendations from the Special Advisor’s report titled, “Renewing the Blue Box: Final report on the blue box mediation process.”

The minister wants to ensure that the transitioned blue box system is affordable for producers, workable for the waste processing sector and effective and accessible for residents. AMO and municipal representatives are involved in the consultation process to develop a new regulation for the blue box. The province’s intent is to finalize a regulation by the end of 2020, an AMO release explains.

“I agree with this motion, it is the producers who make these items, sell them and make money on them that should be responsible for them, not municipalities,” stated Councillor Stephens. 

Council passed the motion indicating that the municipality would like to transition its blue box program to full producer responsibility by January 1, 2025.