Waste management is vital in ensuring our environment is clean and safe. The blue box program is a curbside recycling program that is adopted in over 100 countries. What is the history of this award-winning Ontario recycling program?
Increased environment pollution
In 1972, the amount of waste in the ecosystem was increasing leading to the creation of Ministry of Environment (MOE) whose major role was to reduce the waste. A large amount of the waste was as a result of non-refillable cans. A soft drink beverage industry was using the cans to save up on cleaning and collecting refillable cans.
The Ontario Provincial government started a waste material recovering and processing facility in Downsview. However, the quality of the recycled products was poor. Several grassroots organizations were establishing recycling programs in their localities. The Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) was mandated to promote the recycled products as recycling operators were struggling to market them. The RCO led discussions on recycling issues such as subsidies for recyclers. The operators started to cooperatively market their products.
The birth and the rise of the Blue Box Program
Following the release of MOE’s regulations and requirements for waste management, a pilot project was initiated in Kitchener. Households were given large blue box as they were deemed to be visible and able to withstand the ultraviolet light. The slogan “We Recycle” was applied to every blue box. The project was a success, and in 1984, the City of Kitchener issued a tender for waste haulers.
In 1987, Ontario appointed Halton Recycled Resources Limited to implement the multi-material recycling program. Ontario government was to launch later waste reduction initiatives where all municipalities with a minimum of 5,000 people were to operate a Blue Box program. The RCO in 1994 provided those in the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Sector with information and resources to handle their waste.
Major strides in the Millennium
In 2002, the Waste Diversion Act (WDA) came into effect, and it was to promote the 3Rs (reduction, reuse, and recycling of waste). The Waste Diversion Ontario was established to maintain and promote waste diversion programs by handling funding issues. The stewardship legislation now requires every brand owner to be physically and financially responsible for the management of their products.
The Blue Box handles glass containers, steel containers, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and newsprints among others making it a successful system. In a world full of waste materials, recycling is the way to go for every city and country.