The new Blue Box Regulation (Ont. Reg. 391/21) came into force on June 3, 2021. This regulation shifts the responsibility of operating and paying for Ontario’s recycling program, currently run by Stewardship Ontario, on to Producers of Blue Box Materials. This transition will take place between July 1, 2023 and December 31, 2025; however, there are important registration requirements effective as of this year that Producers, Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) and Processors ought to be aware of, as detailed below.
What are Blue Box Materials?
Blue Box Materials include packaging, paper products or packaging-like products primarily comprised of paper, glass, metal or plastic, or a combination of these materials.
- Product Packaging –
- Primary packaging: containment, protection, handling, and presentation of a product at the point of sale. E.g. film and cardboard used to package a 24-pack of water bottles and the label on the water bottle.
- Transportation packaging: facilitate the handling or transportation of products such as a pallet, bale wrap or box.
- Convenience packaging: used in addition to primary packaging to facilitate end users’ handling of products. E.g. bags and boxes supplied to end users at check out.
- Food or beverage accessories: products supplied for the purpose of being used to facilitate the consumption of food or beverage products and are ordinarily disposed of after a single use such as a straw, cutlery or plates.
- Ancillary products: elements integrated into packaging that help the consumer use the product and are disposed of with the primary packaging. E.g. a mascara brush forming part of a container closure, devices for measuring volume that form part of a detergent container cap, or the pouring spout on a juice or milk carton.
- Paper Products – This includes printed and unprinted paper, such as a newspaper, magazine, greeting cards, notebooks/ planners, promotional material, catalogue or paper used for copying…etc. However, books and periodicals are not considered “paper products” for the purpose of this regulation.
- Packaging-Like Product – These products are used for the containment, protection, handling, delivery, presentation or transportation of things and are usually disposed of after a single use. This includes: aluminum foil, metal tray, plastic film, plastic wrap, wrapping paper, paper bags, beverage cups, plastic bag, cardboard box, but does not include a product made from flexible plastic that is ordinarily used for the containment, protection, or handling of food, such as cling wrap, sandwich bags, or freezer bags.
The transition and key dates
The transition from the current recycling program to the new program will start July 1, 2023 and continue through to December 31, 2025. During the transition phase, Stewardship Ontario will continue to administer the program to avoid disruption in the blue box services provided to municipalities. However, starting July 1, 2023, Producers (and PROs) will be responsible for collecting and managing Blue Box Materials.
Before the transition begins, there are certain registration requirements mandated by the Resource Productivity & Recovery Authority (the “Authority”):
|Producers Anyone who supplies Blue Box Materials to consumers in Ontario. This may include brand holders, importers and retailers.||Register and report 2020 supply data to the Authority.||By October 1, 2021 or within 30 days of becoming a Producer.||TBC|
|Register a representation agreement with PRO for rule creation.||Five days from the date of entering into the representation agreement.||TBC|
|Processors Anyone who processes Blue Box Materials supplied to consumers in Ontario for the purposes of resource recovery.||Register with the Authority.||By April 1, 2022.||TBC|
|Producer Responsibility Organizations (PRO) A business established to help Producers meet their regulatory obligations under the Blue Box Regulation.||Register with the Authority.||Within 30 days of being retained by a Producer.||Contact the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority Phone: 833-600-0530 Email:email@example.com|
|Rule Creators PROs that have entered into a representation agreement with one or more Producers for the rule creation process.||Register with the Authority.||ByNovember 1, 2021.||Contact the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority Phone: 833-600-0530 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org|
What is a Producer Responsibility Organization?
A PRO is a business established to help producers meet their regulatory obligations under the Blue Box Regulation, including:
- Representing Producers in creating the rules;
- Arranging, establishing or operating a collection or management system;
- Arranging, establishing or operating promotion and education system; and
- Preparing and submitting reports.
There is no deadline for a Producer to sign up with a PRO (or obligation to do so). However, if a Producer chooses to enter into a representation agreement with a PRO it can only have such an agreement with one PRO at a time.
What is a Rule Creator?
Rule Creators are PROs that have entered into a representation agreement with one or more Producers and are responsible for developing a set of rules that will govern how Producers are assigned collection services in the allocation table, including how the allocation table is created, maintained and updated. The allocation table will outline the blue box collection system, ensuring that materials are collected from all eligible communities across the province. In addition to PROs the Minister is also a rule creator pursuant to the Regulation.
The initial allocation table must be submitted to the Authority by July 1, 2022 and have a collection period that commences on July 1, 2023. After the initial allocation table, each subsequent allocation table is to be submitted to the Authority by March 31 of the year prior to the collection period (e.g. submit the report March 31, 2024 for 2025).
Information a Producer must provide upon registering with the Authority
Within 30 days of becoming a Producer, a Producer must provide the Authority with the following:
- Its contact information and any unique identifier assigned to it by the Registrar as well as any unique identifier assigned to the PRO it retained.
- It will inform the Authority if it is operating an alternative or supplemental collection system.
- It will inform the Authority of the material categories contained in the blue box materials it supplies to consumers in Ontario. The material categories include (the “Material Categories”):
- Beverage containers,
- Flexible Plastic (meaning non moulded plastic such as a bag, film, or laminate),
- Rigid plastic (meaning moulded plastic such as a food or product container),
- Paper, and
- Certified compostable products and packaging.
- The weight of each Material Category as detailed in the Blue Box Verification and Audit Procedure.
- Unless the only agreement between the Producer and PRO is a representation agreement in accordance with the regulation, the Producer will provide the Authority with a list of collection services (and whether they are expected to be provided by the PRO for the entire collection period), management services, promotion and education services, and any other services provided by the PRO.
Reporting on materials supplied in Ontario
Producers are required to report on the weight of Blue Box Materials they supply into Ontario annually. Where something is comprised of more than one Material Category (e.g. a steel lid on a glass bottle or tape holding together a cardboard box), the 5% threshold rule applies. If the component weighs more than 5% of the overall weight of the package and does not remain connected to the package when discarded (i.e. a metal lid on a glass jar) then the component’s weight would be calculated under its specific Material Category. Otherwise, the weight would go to the Material Category of the package.
Further, materials deductible from the weight calculation will need to be separately indicated in the annual report. These include:
- Materials deposited in a location that is not a residence or facility in an eligible community and that is consumed on site (e.g. a fast food restaurant); and
- Materials collected when a product is installed or delivered (e.g. after an installation is completed the technician takes all the Bleu Box Materials with him/her).
Other reporting requirements
Producers must submit an initial report to the Authority in respect of the 2021 calendar year on or before April 30, 2022 and in respect of 2022 calendar year on or before April 30, 2023.
Beginning 2024, Producers, PROs and Processors are required to submit an annual report on or before April 30 of each year (except in the first year in which it is a Producer, PRO, or Processor) with respect to their performance.
Municipalities must submit an Initial Report with information about their current blue box collection system on or before September 30, 2021. First Nation communities must submit an Initial Report on or before November 30, 2021. Both Municipalities and First Nation communities transitioning in 2023 will also be required to submit a Transition Report by this date.
Promotion and education
Every Producer (or PRO on their behalf) registered under the Blue Box Regulation shall implement a promotion and education program that disseminates, amongst other things, information about:
- What can and cannot be deposited in blue box receptacles;
- How blue box receptacles can be replaced or new ones requested; and
- How the Producer will fulfil its collection responsibilities.
Any Producer whose annual revenue from products and services is less than CA$2 million is exempt from Parts III, IV, VI, VII (other than the requirement to retain records demonstrating the Producer’s annual revenue is less than CA$2 million for five years) and VIII of the Regulation. This includes allocation table requirements, producer requirements (i.e. reporting and registration), and promotion and education initiatives.
Dentons’ is monitoring developments and will provide updates as they are released.