Transition of recycling system to producers

In 2024, responsibility for recycling collection and processing in Northumberland will transition from Northumberland County to producers of packaging and paper products. Northumberland County continues to move forward with plans to support the three-year province-wide transition to ‘Producer Responsibility’.

About Producer Responsibility

Producer Responsibility means producers – the companies that design, create and market products and packaging – are fully responsible for managing and paying for the life cycle of their products and packaging.

 Producer Responsibility looks at the entire life-cycle of a product to ensure effective production and management of packaging to reduce overall waste. This cycle includes:

  • Producer using recycled materials to manufacture products and market them
  • Retailer selling the products
  • Consumer buying and using the products
  • Producer being responsible to collect, process, recycle and dispose of the packaging and products
  • Producer using recycled materials to manufacture products and market them

Why this is being implemented in Ontario

There are over 240 municipal recycling programs across the province that have their own separate lists of accepted recyclable materials, which affects cost savings and contamination.

In August 2019, the Government of Ontario announced plans to transition responsibility for the provincial recycling system from municipalities and First Nations over to producers.

The province’s intention with this shift is to make recycling easier for people and to ensure that the recycling program remains viable over the long-term by:

  • Ensuring a common collection system, province-wide;
  • Creating a standard list of materials that can be recycled across the province;
  • Saving taxpayers money by transitioning recycling programs from municipal management to producer management;
  • Promoting waste diversion by setting province-wide targets;
  • Possibly expanding expanding recycling services to parks and public spaces across Ontario.
  • Innovating new and alternative collection methods to divert materials that can't be recycled by the Blue Box Program or that might contaminate collected materials.


The transition to Producer Responsibility in Ontario will happen over a three-year period beginning in 2023, with producers becoming fully responsible for providing recycling services province-wide by the end of 2025. 

The province has set out timelines for when each municipality will transition during this period. Northumberland County will transition on January 1, 2024.

 When this transition does occur, we will work closely with producers to ensure the seamless provision of recycling services for Northumberland residents.

What this means for local waste and recycling services

  • The County will continue to provide collection services for your waste, green bin, and leaf & yard waste following the transition to Producer Responsibility on January 1, 2024.
  • Producers will be responsible for the collection of materials currently going into your Blue Box and Grey Box. The province has indicated that, once producers are fully responsible for the program, Ontarians will experience the same or improved access to recycling services across the province. Northumberland County will be communicating with residents throughout 2023, as more information becomes available, to support seamless transition of the local recycling system to producers by January 1, 2024.
  • With this transition, Northumberland County will no longer directly offer Blue/Grey Box recycling services. This will require the County to wind down its operation of the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) recycling plant in Grafton. 

Where we are in the transition process

  • August 2019: Government of Ontario announces plans to transition responsibility for the provincial recycling system from municipalities and First Nations over to producers as part of the Producer Responsibility system.
  • June 1, 2021: Province indicates that Northumberland County will transition to Producer Responsibility on January 1, 2024.
  • December 9, 2022: The Material Recovery Facility (MRF) is listed for purchase, with the intention that the County will continue to operate the facility to process recyclable material until the local transition to Producer Responsibility in 2024.
  • March 27, 2023: County announces that, following a competitive public procurement process, it has accepted a conditional offer from Emterra Environmental to purchase the MRF property and facility. The conditional offer to purchase is expected to close January 2024.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How long has this transition been planned? 

 In mid-1990’s municipalities were legislated to provide Blue Box recycling programs for their residents.

The provincial government, municipalities, producers and service providers have been discussing Producer Responsibility since the early 2000’s. The Waste Reduction Act of 2002 introduced a requirement for producers to partially fund diversion programs, administered by municipalities.

Various pieces of legislation have been introduced since 2013 with the goal of transitioning the full cost of waste diversion programs to producers. The Special Advisor on Recycling and Plastic Waste report, prepared for the province in 2019, recommended specific timelines for transitioning Blue Box Programs from municipalities to producers.

Based on these timelines, in August 2019, the Province announced next steps for moving responsibility for recycling away from municipalities and over to the private sector producers of packaging and paper products.

What are the impacts to the County Budget?

The transition to Producer Responsibility will shift the costs of administering a recycling program away from municipal taxpayers. The County estimates savings of approximately $3 million annually as a result. 

The decision on how these savings will be used or reinvested will be determined as part of the 2024 budget process.

How will the Province ensure producers are complying with recycling requirements? What if producers don’t meet their targets?

 The Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority is a non-Crown oversight body that has compliance and enforcement powers to ensure producers are complying with regulations.

As part of this transition, Ontario is developing regulations to support the new Producer Responsibility model for the recycling program. These regulations will address items such as:

  • ensuring access to recycling services for Ontarians
  • eligible materials that can be recycled at curbside
  • diversion targets for producers
  • reporting requirements for producers/service providers


Government of Ontario

Northumberland County

Note: while Northumberland County originally recommended a preferred date of January 1, 2023, for transition to Producer Responsibility, the province ultimately determined that the County would transition on January 1, 2024.

The decision on how the savings will be utilized or reinvested will be determined as part of the 2024 budget process.