Canadian Beverage Association Supports Blue Box Regulation

By Jim Goetz

As we marked the beginning of Waste Reduction Week in Canada, on behalf of the Canadian Beverage Association I was proud to join the Hon. Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks in announcing the draft blue box regulation. It seems only a short time ago in August of 2019 that I stood with the minister to announce the transition plan, but a great deal of work has been done since then by a large group of stakeholders. Everyone involved should be commended.

As many of you will know, I have personally been working on this file for the better part of a decade. But long before that, the beverage sector was playing an important leadership role in advancing convenient recycling programs throughout Canada.

In Ontario, our member companies were instrumental in establishing the blue box program on a province-wide basis. Since then, we, along with other Ontario companies, have made significant investments to support the province’s blue box program. In fact, since the current blue box program started in 2004, businesses have contributed roughly $1.5 billion.

We now believe it is time to build on the success of the blue box by transitioning Ontario’s roughly 250 individual municipal recycling programs into one, province-wide system funded and operated by companies that sell packaged goods and paper products (referred to as producers).

With as much as 40 per cent of beverage products consumed away from home (depending on the beverage container type), it is essential to not only have effective, convenient collection for Ontarians at home, but also to have convenient public space recycling away-from-home.

We have seen across the country that increasing access to recycling, along with clear effective promotion and education, leads to higher recycling rates, reduced contamination of recyclable materials and less litter.

With our experience from across Canada, our sector has the expertise and the plan to reach the proposed beverage container diversion targets through a combination of a more effective, modernized Blue Box system, and a public space recycling program modelled after the very successful Recycle Everywhere program in Manitoba.

Though there is still lots of heavy lifting done to accomplish this ambitious project, I am excited about the future of recycling in Ontario and the investments the beverage sector is making in driving the circular economy.

Jim Goetz is president of the Canadian Beverage Association.