What are the blue box changes?
From July 2023 to the end of December 2025, all municipalities in Ontario will transition their blue box program to a new collection model. Under the new model, the companies that produce blue box materials will be required to fully fund and operate the recycling system.
In Guelph, the transition to a new blue box collector will occur by January 2025. You may also notice other municipalities’ blue box programs transitioning beginning in July 2023.
In 2026, there will be two new enhancements to the blue box program, including:
- Ontarians will be able to recycle more types of materials and this list of materials will be the same across Ontario for the first time.
- There will be free blue box collection for schools (public, separate, and private that teach Kindergarten to Grade 12), non-profit retirement and long-term care homes, and multi-residential buildings (e.g., apartments and condos).
Who is responsible for blue box collection?
As of July 2023, the companies that produce blue box materials sold in Ontario will be responsible and held accountable for collecting these materials and recycling them into new products.
These companies, also known as Producers, will fulfill their regulatory obligations collectively through Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs). The PROs have come together to run a single, new, province-wide common collection system. The approved common collection system administrator is a non-profit company called Circular Materials.
Circular Materials will be responsible for the collection of blue box materials from homes and residential buildings across Ontario, including the residential portion of mixed commercial and residential properties.
If you live, work, or visit another municipality, please check local resources for instructions on how to use the new recycling system. By January 2026, all municipalities in Ontario will be switched over to this new producer responsibility collection system.
Why are these changes happening?
The Government of Ontario has introduced provincial legislation that changes how blue box materials are managed and collected in Ontario.
The Blue Box Regulation, made under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, is a key pillar of the Government of Ontario’s Strategy for a Waste Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy. Under the regulation, municipalities and First Nation communities in Ontario will move from the current system, which splits costs between municipal taxpayers and Producers of blue box materials, to a new system which requires the Producers to pay for and operate the system and achieve performance targets. Producers will be responsible for collecting and recycling blue box materials, reporting to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority, and meeting increasing targets for materials they collect and recycle.
Placing full financial, operational, and performance accountability for the blue box program on the Producers of blue box materials creates a direct incentive to reduce waste and improve recycling which decreases natural resource extraction and pollution, including greenhouse gases.
Industrial, commercial, and institutional properties
Industrial, commercial, and institutional (IC&I) waste is regulated separately from residential waste in Ontario.
As of January 2025, the City’s recycling collection program will end, and IC&I properties will need to make alternate arrangements to have their recycling collected. They will not be served by Circular Materials as per the Government of Ontario’s regulation.
The Government of Ontario’s Strategy for a Waste Free Ontario envisions a new approach to modernize the way these properties recycle, however the current Blue Box Regulation does not include IC&I properties as eligible collection sources (excluding Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools and non-profit retirement and long-term care).
Learn more about changes to waste collection for businesses.
For more information
Solid Waste Resources