08/11/2006

An AMO-AMRC position paper.
Ontario’s Blue Box Program is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2006. The program has continued to evolve and change over those 25 years and more change is underway to make municipal blue box programs more efficient, both to the property taxpayers of Ontario municipalities, and to Stewards under the Blue Box Program Plan approved by the Province of Ontario under the Waste Diversion Act.

Municipalities, however, have a number of constraints to improving the efficiency of their municipal blue box programs. As AMO has indicated to the Province before, one of the constraints is the materials that Ontario municipalities are required or encouraged to recycle as blue box waste under O.Reg. 101/94 to the Environmental Protection Act.

The management of glass bottles and jars, particularly coloured glass, has been a difficult material to manage from the earliest days of the Blue Box Program. There have been few to no markets for the recycling of glass available to Ontario municipalities. When markets did exist they were extremely particular about the separation of flint (clear), green, brown and blue coloured glass into their individual coloured fractions. The movement to single-stream and two-stream recycling collection systems to improve collection efficiency, and the investment in new material processing centres in Ontario, means that the majority of glass collected from the curb is now broken when it gets to the recycling centre. It has become increasingly difficult to separate flint from coloured glass, and as a result, glass is being marketed to low end uses for little to no revenue, instead of for high end bottle to bottle re-use. The changes have also meant that more glass is going to landfill for disposal as process residual from recycling centres.