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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is responsible for the Blue Box Program?

Stewardship Ontario operates the Blue Box Program under the authority of the the Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016. Stewardship Ontario is designated in legislation as an “Industry Funding Organization” in order to make it clear that it is the responsibility of industry to fund stewardship programs for various wastes.

Stewardship Ontario is accountable to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (the Authority). An annual report provides detailed performance results along with an audited financial statement for public review.

Who pays for the Blue Box Program?

Stewardship Ontario receives no funding from government or taxpayers. The cost of running the Blue Box Program—collecting, transporting and processing your recyclables—is split between the municipalities that administer local recycling programs and the companies (or stewards) that produce the materials or products that end up in curbside recycling boxes.

What is a diversion rate?

The province’s diversion rate is calculated by dividing the amount of waste that is diverted away from landfill sites by the total amount of waste produced (including the amount sent to landfill). When the Blue Box program was launched in 2004, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment established a 50 per cent diversion rate, rising to 60 per cent in 2008. The Blue Box Program diverts almost a million tonnes of printed paper and packaging each year and continues to keep the percentage of waste that goes to recycling above the 60 per cent target rate.

Why should I recycle?

Recycling turns products that would otherwise become waste into new products or resources. Reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill addresses health and environmental concerns—and the shortage of landfill space. Recycling ensures useful materials aren’t wasted, and reduces the related consumption of raw materials and energy in manufacturing. Glass, for example, takes up to 4,000 years to decompose in a landfill site. When you take your Blue Box to the curb, you’re also helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, and protecting our natural resources from depletion. But you’re not only doing the right thing for our environment—you’re also doing the right thing for the economy. In addition to creating jobs, recycling creates a profitable market for recycled materials, an increasingly important commodity in today’s marketplace. 

How do I know when my Blue Box materials will be collected?

Check with your municipality. Many municipalities publish online collection calendars. 

How do I get a recycling bin for my household?

Contact your municipality to find out how your local recycling program works. In most cases, Blue Boxes (or their equivalent) are provided free of charge.

What happens to my recycling?

Once recyclables are collected, they’re sorted, baled, and either sold to processors or manufacturers that reuse the materials or recycle them into new products. The revenue individual municipalities get from selling these materials is used to help offset program costs, making the overall Blue Box Program more cost-effective for both municipalities and stewards. Learn More

Why aren’t some recyclable items accepted in my Blue Box?

Certain items are hard to recycle. Other recyclable items don’t have end markets, which means there are no manufacturers who want to use the recycled products in their manufacturing processes. As part of our market-development initiatives, we explore ways of processing hard-to-recycle materials and identify new markets for recycled materials.

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