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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 properties (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.
Multi-residential properties are eligible for collection under producer responsibility. Changes will affect existing City customers, new builds, and those receiving private collection of their blue box differently:
Multi-residential properties receiving City service
Starting January 1, 2025, multi-residential properties that were already receiving City waste collection service will stop receiving City service for their Blue Box only and will begin having their blue box serviced through the producer responsibility program. The City will continue to collect garbage and organic waste. Once Circular Materials determine who will be servicing the blue box in Guelph, more information will be made available to property owners and managers about how to coordinate collection with them.
Multi-residential properties that do not receive City service
Starting January 1, 2026, all existing multi-residential properties in the province, including those receiving private blue box collection, will become eligible for free blue box collection through the producer responsibility program. Once Circular Materials determine who will be servicing the blue box in Guelph, more information will be made available to property owners and managers about how to coordinate collection with them. Property owners may still apply to the City to service their garbage and organics streams as outlined on our multi-residential waste collection page.
New multi-residential properties during transition
If a new multi-residential property opens in 2025, they are immediately eligible for service and do not need to wait until 2026. Property owners may still apply to the City to service their garbage and organics streams as outlined on our multi-residential waste collection page.
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.
- Blue Box Regulation
- Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act
- Strategy for a Waste Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy
- Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority
- Circular Materials
Frequently asked questions
Will the City still collect organics and other waste?
The City will still manage curbside collection of garbage, organics and yard waste for the community, as well as operate the public drop-off, transfer station, and household hazardous waste drop-off.
Has Circular Materials identified who will collect blue box materials in Guelph yet?
No, Circular Materials, as the organization responsible for managing eligible blue box materials in Guelph, will identify who will collect the blue box by the end of 2024.
What level of service can I expect from the new blue box collection program?
Residential customers will experience the same level of service, however the collection day or the number of recycling streams or collection containers may change.
Who do I call if I have questions about blue box collection after January 2025?
Starting in January 2025, the City will not provide customer service related to blue box collection.
Once Circular Materials identifies who will collect the blue box in Guelph, their contact information will be publicized by Circular Materials and by the City. Until that time, questions may be sent directly to Circular Materials at [email protected] or 1-855-354-2772.
You can continue to contact the City about curbside service for grey and green carts and yard waste, and any other questions about non-blue box waste management.
Why did the Government of Ontario legislate these changes?
The goal is to make Producers (e.g., Amazon, Walmart, Nestle, Coca Cola, etc.) responsible and accountable for managing the waste they create and incentivize them to generate less waste and to make materials easier to recycle. The legislation will also make the recycling system easier to use and consistent across Ontario and provide free collection to all residential buildings, non-profit retirement and long-term care homes, and Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools.
Will recycling containers still be available in public spaces?
Starting January 1, 2025, Circular Materials will take over collection of recycling containers in public spaces and must provide the same level of collection service the City currently provides. Beginning January 1, 2026, Circular Materials will provide one public recycling container per 600 residents in public spaces, which is like the current number available.
For more information
Solid Waste Resources