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Ottawa changing to new provincial recycling program

A regulation from the Province of Ontario is bringing changes to the way municipalities provide recycling programs. It creates a common program across the province and makes producers of products and packaging responsible for recycling the materials they supply. This new approach is called Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) or Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

By making the producer responsible, the new program supports a circular economy, reducing operational and financial responsibilities for municipalities. 

The City of Ottawa is one of the first municipalities in Ontario to transition its residential blue and black bin recycling program to Individual Producer Responsibility. The transition started on July 1, 2023. 

Circular Materials, the administrator of Ontario’s common collection system, explains more on their website:  

    Extended Producer Responsibility, or EPR, is a policy approach in which producers – the businesses that supply packaging and paper to residents – are responsible for the end-of-life management of their materials.

    That means contributing financially to, and in some cases, operating the recycling system.

    EPR starts with environmental legislation, obligating producers to take responsibility for their materials straight through to end of life. Recovery and recycling targets are set and reporting requirements are defined.
    This helps shift material from the waste stream into the recycling system.

    To fulfill these legal obligations, many producers join a Producer Responsibility Organization, or P-R-O, who administer an EPR program on their behalf.

    Producers pay fees to a P-R-O and the P-R-O uses the fee revenue to support the collection, sorting and recycling of material.

    In some EPR models, a single jurisdiction is managed as a whole – with a consistent material list and an integrated material management supply chain. This creates greater scale and efficiency.

    Residents are informed what is accepted and how to recycle it through promotion and education.

    Material is then collected from residents’ homes or depots in partnership with local governments or private waste management companies.

    Material is then brought to a material recovery facility, to be weighed…sorted… and baled by specific material type, such as the kind of paper or plastic resin.

    Because of the potential scale of the system, EPR can facilitate investment in infrastructure and advanced sorting technologies, resulting in better quality materials and more of the material ultimately being recycled.

    The goal is to create a circular economy for material by selling it to verified end markets to be made into new products.

    Throughout this process, the amount and type of material is tracked, weighed and recorded so performance requirements are fulfilled and results can be verified and improved.

    In the end, the P-R-O ensures that producers meet their regulatory obligations, and verify their performance targets.

    The material enters back into the market, contributing to a circular economy.
    Ottawa’s transition 

    As of July 1, 2023, hard and soft cover books are no longer accepted in the black bin. However, books are easy to reuse. Please consider giving them to family, friends, local schools or a Buy Nothing group near you (you can find them on Facebook). There are also many organizations that accept book donations which you can find on our Waste Explorer.

    Ottawa’s recycling will be fully transitioned to the new system in 2026, when producers will implement a standardized collection program across the province. This means that residents across Ontario will be able to recycle the same materials no matter where they live.

    Producers have not yet provided the full details of what this common collection system will look like, but it will have to meet the Blue Box Regulation requirements. 

    We will provide more details of the new program as we know them.

    Expected benefits of the new system

    Transitioning to the Individual Producer Responsibility system may:

    • Increase waste diversion from the City’s landfill due to more accepted recyclable products, such as film plastics
    • Reduce municipalities’ role in the collection and processing of recyclable materials
    • Encourage producers to reduce and/or innovate their packaging to decrease the cost of collecting and processing them
    • Standardize the recycling service across Ontario

    Keep people and animals safe

    Keep people safe from your waste 

    Litter (including used masks and gloves)

    • Residents should dispose of all garbage, including gloves and masks, in waste bins.  If you take your used gloves and masks home, throw them away in a garbage bin lined with a plastic bag, and be sure to wash your hands after. 

    • Used paper facial tissues should be placed in plastic bags and can go in the green bin.

    • Broken glass should be placed in a cardboard box. Close and seal the box then write “broken glass” on it and set it out separately on your next garbage collection day. 

    • Other sharp items that may pose a risk to individuals handling your waste should be wrapped in used paper towel or bubble wrap. 

    • Items such as medical needles, syringes and lancets don’t belong in the garbage or recycling bins. Go to to learn how to dispose of these.    

    At-home rapid antigen screening

    • For residents in the City of Ottawa, rapid COVID test kits from at-home testing must be placed in a plastic bag and then placed in your regular household garbage. This will help ensure the safety of waste collection operators.

    For information about on-site workplace rapid antigen screening, please visit

    Keep animals safe from your waste 

    Empty food containers can be dangerous to wildlife and pets. Animals may injure or trap themselves trying to get food scraps out of discarded jars, cans and other containers.   

    These simple steps can help keep animals safe: 

    • Put all trash where it belongs – don’t litter! 

    • Keep your trash inside until collection day. 

    • Rinse out food waste to make empty containers less attractive. 

    • Put lids back on plastic or glass jars before placing them into your blue bin. 

    • Remove lids entirely from cans (don’t bend them inside the can!) and crush the open end of the can shut, to prevent animals from sticking their paws or heads inside. 

    • Cut plastic six-pack holders and other similar items apart before putting them in the garbage. 

    What goes in your blue bin

    Important blue bin reminders:

    • All recyclables must be placed loose in an approved City of Ottawa blue bin to help with sorting at the recycling facility.
    • Plastic bags should not be used to package recyclables. They cannot be opened by the automated sorting process at the recycling facility and the plastic bags get caught in the equipment.
    • Clear/blue/biodegradable plastic bags are not accepted. Clean plastic grocery bags should be reused or brought to a Take it Back! partners.
    • Your blue bin should not weigh more than 15 kg when full.
    • Not sure how to dispose of a specific item? Check the Waste Explorer.

    What goes in your blue bin

    Blue bin recyclable:

    • Empty bottles and jars
    • Metal cans
    • Soft drink cans
    • Jar lids
    • Aluminum containers (clean or food soiled)
    • Aluminum foil (clean or food soiled)
    • Empty paint cans with lids removed
    • Empty aerosol cans (hairspray, paint, whipping cream)
    • Spiral-wound canisters with metal ends (frozen concentrate cans, potato chip tube)
    • Rigid food and household containers numbers 1 to 7
      • Please note that rigid #6 plastics such as yogurt cups and clear plastics are accepted, while expanded #6 such as Styrofoam are not accepted.
      • Plastics without a recycling number are not accepted.
    • Take-out containers, bakery and produce containers (clam shells)
    • Pails (remove metal handle)
    • Planting trays
    • Flower pots
    • Single serve yogurt cups
    • Clear plastic egg cartons
    • Plastic bottles, jars and jugs
    • Tubs and tub lids (yogurt, ice cream, margarine containers)
    • Milk and juice cartons
    • Drink boxes
    • Soup boxes
    • Frozen meal trays and take-out containers
    Empty Alcohol Containers

    Empty wine, beer and spirit containers greater than 100 ml purchased in Ontario must be returned, for refund at The Beer Store.


    Place these items in your regular garbage.

    • Ceramics such as dishes, cups and pottery
    • Other glass such as drinking glasses, window glass, light bulbs, and mirrors
    • CFL bulbs (compact fluorescent) can be returned to a Take it Back! partner or a Household Hazardous Waste Depot
    • Metal clothes hangers
    • Scrap metal
    • Chip bags
    • #6 expanded polystyrene (such as Styrofoam containers and packaging, meat trays and foam clam shells)
    • All plastic bags
    • Hard plastics such as dishes, cups, toys, make-up jars, laundry baskets
    • Motor oil containers

    Find out what happens to your recycling.  

    What goes in your black bin

    Important black bin reminders

    • Paper and cardboard must be clean.
    • Your black bin should not weigh more than 15 kg when full.
    • Flatten the boxes and place them into one larger box.
    • Have a specific question about an item? Check the Waste Explorer.

    What can I put in my black bin?

    • Newspaper and flyers
    • Magazines and catalogues
    • Corrugated cardboard
    • Cereal and cracker boxes (remove plastic liners)
    • Shoe and laundry detergent boxes
    • Writing and computer paper, paper pads
    • Paper egg cartons, toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls
    • Gift wrapping paper and greeting cards
    • Clean paper shopping bags or paper packaging
    • Frozen dinner boxes
    • Clean pizza boxes 
    • Telephone books

    Place these items in your green bin:

    • Waxed paper
    • Food soiled pizza boxes
    • Other soiled paper products
    • Tissues and paper towels (soiled or clean)
    • Coffee cups (wax lined)

    Place these items in your garbage:

    • Cereal and cracker box liners, chip and cookie bags and canisters
    • Chocolate bar and candy wrappings
    • Wooden clementine and orange crates
    • Foil wrapping paper, bows, ribbons
    • Paper and cardboard lined with foil

    Find out what happens to your recycling

    How recycling works

    Recycling makes a difference

    Thank you, Ottawa! In 2023, you recycled more than 27 146 tonnes of glass, metal and plastic , as well as 36 250 tonnes of paper and cardboard.  

    Though the City of Ottawa continues to collect your recycling materials, Circular Materials, the administrator of Ontario’s common collection system, is now responsible for the processing of your recyclables since the transition to Individual Producer Responsibility began for Ottawa residents on July 1, 2023. For more information, visit: 

    Here is an educational video on the recycling process from Circular Materials: 

    Have you ever wondered what happens after you place your recyclables in the bin? Here's a quick breakdown of the collection, sorting and recycling process. Materials are collected and taken to a facility where they are sorted into commodities for recycling. Once the material is sorted, it is bailed and ready for repurposing at recycling facilities. Bailed materials are sold to end markets where they can be transformed into new packaging or products. By sorting your recyclables, materials can be used again and again and that benefits all of us as well as our environment. Ready, Recycle, Repeat.

    Recycling creates jobs

    Recycling creates jobs in the manufacturing and service sectors and boosts the economy.

    Recycling protects our natural resources

    One tree filters up to 60 lbs of pollutants each year.

    Together, we can do better.

    Based on the City’s most recent waste audit, 58 per cent of household waste currently going to the landfill belongs in the blue, black or green bins. We can do better to divert more waste!