Chatham-Kent is recycling the Blue Box Program.
In Ontario, the Blue Box Program is transitioning from a model of shared industry funding to one of producer responsibility. Currently, local governments provide services via municipal assets or contracts. The responsibility will shift to a producer-provided service via similar contracts for collecting, processing, promotion and education.
Chatham-Kent is set to transition on Jan. 1, 2024, but producer responsibility organizations (PROs) will likely ask for an extension.
In a presentation from Huda Oda, Manager, Waste, Recycling and Climate Change, prepared with Tim Dick, Director, Drainage Asset and Waste Management, Chatham-Kent council heard about the outstanding issues and next steps for Chatham-Kent to make this transition.
According to Oda, there were three main outstanding issues — partnering with the PROs, ineligible sources, and how to deal with indirect Blue Box costs.
“There are still questions to be answered to fully understand the implications,” said Oda.
Circular Materials (CMO) has proclaimed itself as the system administrator for the PROs. Oda said this leaves CK with limited negotiation power.
When it comes to commercial properties (ICIs), the municipality will be on its own come January 2026.
“I don’t have a clear answer for [these questions],” said Oda. “We’ve identified some communication or data gaps that we don’t have concrete information on. That means we don’t know how many [will be] impacted by the lack of service.”
Oda noted there are likely some “hidden” expenses related to the Blue Box recycling program.
“These may not be very obvious,” she said. “For example, as a community, we are interested in making sure our educational materials are the best possible. We have an invested interest in making sure the waste is diverted from the landfill. Now that recycling won’t be in our jurisdiction, there will be overlap … so we have a vested interest in making sure those materials are on par.”
The PROs are required to have educational materials, but they are likely to be standardized across the province.
“Any targeted or specific needs will have to be covered by the municipality,” said Oda.
As the transition deadline looms closer, Oda said administration would be keeping an eye on developments, including the current offer from the CMO. A further report will be presented on June 6 with recommendations from administration on delegating authority for contracting with PROs and allocating resources to address CK’s transition.
“We want to make this transition as smooth as possible for all parties,” she said. “We want to see the service as un-disrupted as possible for residents.”
A stakeholder communication will also be developed as part of the next steps.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News