Proposed Blue Bin overhaul means Waterloo Region taxes would no longer pay for recycling packaged materials
KITCHENER -- A Blue Bin Program overhaul proposed by the provincial government could mean taxpayers in Waterloo Region would be off the hook for the cost of recycling packaged materials.
The Progressive Conservative government unveiled details on the new regulations on Monday, which would shift multi-million dollar costs from municipalities to the producers of those products. The cost of the current program is split between the cities using it and is managed by Stewardship Ontario.
Right now, residents paying taxes in the Region of Waterloo pay for 50 per cent of the program, while the producers of cans and plastics pay for the other 50 per cent. The new plan would make those producers responsible for 100 per cent of the cost.
"There will no longer be a taxpayer cost to the Blue Box program," said John Arsenault, director of waste management services with the Region of Waterloo. "It will be fully funded and fully under the control of producers or producer networks."
The province plans to have the transition in place by 2026. However, Waterloo Region's collection contracts expire in 2024, meaning the region will see the transition sooner than some other parts of the province.
The Blue Bin program costs taxpayers between $2 million and $6 million a year. The overhaul could save the average household between $10 and $20 each year.
"The cost saving is for the region," Arsenault said. "At that point in time, how that's utilized and how it's used is totally up to regional council."
The overhaul will also add consistency to what is accepted into Blue Bins. Right now, only some municipalities accept coffee pods. Under the new plan, they will be accepted for recycling across Ontario.
Blue Box collection for apartments and schools would also be the producer's responsibility under the new program.
"Our current mandate is single residential and multi-residential up to six units, or for those facilities we can drive through that are single level that our trucks can freely pass," Arsenault said. "We still have to make a determination as a region what involvement we're going to have with multi-residential selection in the future, if at all."
Picking up recycling from Blue Carts would be transferred to the producers in the new program, meaning they would cover those costs once it comes into effect.
The region said it would speak with producers over the coming years to determine the role it will play in the program.
"We may be a contractor to producers, in the sense that we continue to collect Blue Box recyclables at the curb on their behalf as part of our larger collection contracts, we could also be processing the materials at our recycling centre on their behalf," Arsenault said.
Those details will be clarified in the future.
With files from CTV News Kitchener's Nicole Lampa and CTVNewsToronto.ca