TORONTO — Ontario has finalized its plans to expand the list of things accepted in blue boxes because it moves to standardize recycling programs across the province.

Environment Minister Jeff Yurek announced the federal government has concluded consultations and can move forward with a plan that has been in development for years.

It is going to standardize the blue box program across greater than 250 municipalities and shift the associated fee to operate it from communities to waste producers – a move it estimates will save $156 million a yr.

Yurek says this system will mean additional items can be accepted in blue boxes including plastic cups, foils, trays and bags.

Single use items comparable to stir sticks, straws, cutlery and plates can even be permitted in blue bins under the proposal.

This system can be phased in starting in 2023 in Toronto, London, Kenora, and the Town of Hawkesbury.

The province can even expand blue box services to more smaller and rural communities with populations under 5,000.

It is usually pledging to expand the service to locations where it shouldn’t be provided, including apartment buildings, long-term care homes, schools and municipal parks by 2026.

Opposition critics have slammed the federal government for taking too long to implement the changes, but Yurek defended the timeline as realistic.

“After we checked out creating the blue box program we actually need to make the changes which can be going to be effective and really workable in the actual day world,” he said. “Not only what’s considered on a bit of paper.”

Yurek said Ontario’s overall waste diversion rate has stalled and about 70 per cent of recyclable materials proceed to find yourself in landfills.

“This may allow more Ontarians to recycle,” he said.

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner praised the initiative for streamlining the province’s recycling program, but said if Ontario desires to tackle the difficulty of plastic waste it must ban single-use plastic bottles and occasional cups.

Those items were left off a recent federal list of banned single-use plastics, he said.

“My fear is that Premier (Doug Ford) doesn’t understand that our plastic waste problem is reaching a crisis point,” Schreiner said in a press release. “I’m fearful that plastics will proceed to pile up in landfills, parks, and lakes.”


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