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November 2013 Blue Box Materials and Monitoring Strategy


Academic year: 2024

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Background and Trends

For the Blue Box program in particular, the proposed changes could have profound implications for York Region. The proposed changes include moving funding from Ontario's Blue Box system to 100 per cent steward funding.

Background and Trends

Stewardship Ontario negotiates funding of approximately 50 percent of the net system costs of Ontario's municipal Blue Box program. The table shows the amount of different materials recycled in the regional Blue Box program. The composition of the material in the blue box is changing rapidly due to lifestyle and demographic changes.

Smaller household sizes typically mean more convenience packaging and an increase in the plastic content of the blue box. More multi-residential housing: Population growth in York Region will mean growth in the amount of blue box material to be managed. From a blue box perspective, Stewardship Ontario is the most relevant of the Ontario IFOs for York Region to continue to engage.

Plastics will become an increasingly important component of the Blue Box Program over the next number of years. If Ontario is to move to 100 per cent caregiver funding of the Blue Box Program, the role of the region and Indigenous people. Provincial discussions on blue box policy changes and implications for York Region and local municipalities.

5 Study on the implications of Ontario's future 100% industry funded Blue Box program for York Region and local municipalities.

Table 3:  Residue Rates At York MRF, 2005 to 2011  Year   Processed  Marketed  Residue  % Residue
Table 3: Residue Rates At York MRF, 2005 to 2011 Year Processed Marketed Residue % Residue

Description of York Region Material Recovery Facility

Current Material Recovery Facility and Blue Box System Monitoring Programs

Environmental and Social Implications of the Blue Box Strategy

The energy savings, which translate into greenhouse gas (GHG) savings, are less dramatic for other materials but are still significant (ranging from a 14 percent reduction for steel to a 27 percent reduction for glass and a 44 percent for some paper materials). The additional transport emissions produced to collect and process recyclables at the Material Recycling Facility are insignificant compared to the energy saved by using them. However, the table clearly illustrates the significant GHG benefits of recycling materials that are currently part of the Region's Blue Box program.

That's the equivalent of taking 11,675 cars off the road or the energy needed to power 29,000 homes in Ontario. The blue box is a constant reminder to residents about their consumption patterns and packaging. As a visible and well-understood/used component of York Region's waste management system, the blue box provides an ideal educational opportunity.

Blue Box Strategy Components

Step 1 - Monitor Changing Blue Box Materials and System Impacts

Annual Population and Housing Projection Updates

Planned changes in the housing stock, or expansions of certain housing types (e.g. more small apartments for young singles, or more senior housing for single households, etc.) will influence the type of material in the blue box. The information collected during these meetings and updated after the meetings will be used as input into the York Region Blue Box projection model recommended later in this document.

Tracking and Modeling Impacts

Steward Reports - Stewards are required to submit blue box material generation data to Stewardship Ontario annually as part of their annual fee determination process. The Continuous Improvement Fund (CIF) is also an important resource for York Region (and other Ontario municipal governments) to ensure that regular audits are used to monitor changes in the composition of waste in the blue box. on the basis of the past forward. Information from these audits was used as input to the Blue Box Projection Model.

Associations through which York Region can stay informed about Blue Box issues are discussed later in this document. Development of a blue box projection model to predict the composition and amount of blue box material over time. The results of the model will be included in the annual Blue Box report described in Task 5.

Step 2 - Involvement with Blue Box Related Organizations

Multi-Stakeholder Organizations

York Region and other municipalities need to ensure that the voice of the municipality is clearly heard by MOE staff and the Minister for the Environment so that municipal concerns are fully taken into account in any future plans to change the regulations. The Region regularly interacts with the MOE through its participation as a member of the Regional Public Works Commissioners of Ontario (RWPCO). Although important political discussions are currently taking place on the proposed Waste Reduction Act, the future role of the WDO is uncertain.

The results of this study may have significant implications for changes to the waste diversion program in Ontario and York Region, as discussed below. 7MIPC Blue Box MRF Optimization Study: In early 2012, the Municipal Industry Program Committee (MIPC) commissioned a study to optimize the Blue Box material handling system in Ontario. PAC NEXT is a major initiative of the Packaging Association of Canada (PAC), which has been the voice of the Canadian packaging industry since 1950.

Municipally–led Organizations

One of the unique aspects of PAC NEXT is the commitment to engage senior representatives from packaging/consumer companies along with senior representatives from waste industry service providers and interested municipal authorities to work together on packaging waste solutions. Involvement in one or more PAC NEXT committees ensures that the municipal voice is heard before new packaging formats are introduced to the Ontario marketplace and that York Region is aware of new packaging formats that will be collected and arrived at the MRF for processing. Members of the RPWCO group generally consist of former upper-tier municipalities (e.g. York, Peel, Durham and Halton regions, the cities of Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa) and those cities and single-tier municipalities with a population of more than 100,000 (e.g. .eg London, Windsor, Thunder Bay, Muskoka, Haldimand, Norfolk, etc.).

While the RPWCO is comprised of a relatively small number of municipalities, they provide the full spectrum of public works infrastructure and services to more than 80 percent of Ontario's population. The Commissioner of Environmental Services for the Region of York was appointed Chair of RPWCO in January 2012. Although the FCM is not directly involved in Blue Box issues, which are entirely provincial, York Region should generally monitor the FCM's activities.

Interest Based Organizations

Stewardship Ontario collects fees from stewards and pays York Region about $7.2 million in blue box funds annually. York Region has a staff member at MIPC, so we have a good understanding of how the funding formula was originally developed and how it has changed over time. Going forward, additional staff should familiarize themselves with how the funding formula works to ensure that York Region and local municipalities receive their fair share of available funding (approximately $93 million, excluding in-kind newspaper contributions in 2012).

York Region needs to analyze the impact of different funding formulas to ensure they are fair and accurately compensate municipalities for the resources expended to provide blue box collection and processing services. It is important that York Region is kept informed of OWMA's policy and program activities and recommendations, even if only through informal contacts among senior waste staff in York. One approach to increasing York Region's involvement is to become a member of the waste disposal committee which already includes municipal representatives from Niagara and Durham.

Step 3 - Planning For Future Changes in the Blue Box System

A "status quo" scenario would see minimal changes to the blue box program and infrastructure in York Region over the next few years. For this reason, Scenario 2 is considered the most likely medium-term future scenario, with Scenario 3 the most likely long-term scenario for the Blue Box Program in Ontario. Significant progress has been made in optimizing the blue box collection system at the local municipal level, particularly through the joining of six northern municipalities in a collection contract.

None of the optimization models identified an MRF in York Region, therefore an MRF in York Region may not be part of a future optimized Ontario Blue Box program based on the MIPC study. For example, Quebec mandates municipalities to operate and control the Blue Box program, and stewards support 100 percent of the program's costs. Given the likely number of changes to the Blue Box program in the short to medium term, an annual Blue Box report should be produced by York Region.

A deposit system already applies to LCBO containers, so a good education program to keep them out of the Blue Box can reduce return costs. Assessment of alternative blue box collection methods should be done using the decision-making framework developed as part of the SM4RT Living Plan.

Step 4 - Annual Blue Box Report

Blue Box Pilot Projects

MRF Residue Pilot – assess opportunities to increase the recovery of recyclable materials from MRF residues through either reprocessing at the MRF or sending to an external service provider. LCBO glass pilot – measure the amount of LCBO glass in the glass received at the MRF;. A budget of US$100,000 should be allocated for these pilots, which can be planned for 2014 at the earliest.

Banning Recyclables

Therefore, under the Local Government Act, the Region of York has the ability to regulate waste management and recycling activities through their bylaws. To effectively push for increased diversion in the long-term future, York Region should consider developing a policy that would ban recyclables from the curbside residual waste stream. To adequately develop and implement a ban on recyclable materials, York Region would need the support and coordination of all local councils.

For example, if York Region were to develop a policy to ban recyclables at the border, local council partners would need to work closely with the collection team as they would have the authority to refuse to collect waste. remaining containing prohibited materials. To help with this process, York Region and its local municipal partners may want to consider a stop pilot where they select an item, say PET#1 for example. By selecting just one item, the Region and its local municipal partners can take the time to coordinate and ensure that collection and operations are on board.

Consideration of Alternative Blue Box Collection Methods

The pilot project could last a year and the region could determine the feasibility of additional steps forward. The lessons learned would also be useful if additional items were added to the prohibited list.



Resources and Timelines

3 Comprehensive audit program for single-family households (urban, sub-urban and rural), multi-family households and possibly other system users (e.g. schools). 7 Annual Blue Box Report 40 days first year to create format and compile first year data; 30 days per year every year after the first year. For each new initiative, specific performance metrics are identified, but there are several overall metrics to measure the performance of the Blue Box materials.

Benefits of Blue Box Monitoring Strategy


Table 1:  Annual Costs For York Region Blue Box Program, 2011
Table 3:  Residue Rates At York MRF, 2005 to 2011  Year   Processed  Marketed  Residue  % Residue
Table 6 compares performance of the York Region Blue Box Program with other large Ontario  municipalities


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