The Ontario government’s proposed changes to the Blue Box recycling program will lead to losses of good jobs in municipalities and a lack of public oversight, says CUPE Ontario.

The Ford government’s announced Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) recycling model is touted as one that would result in substantial savings for taxpayers and municipalities, but the union, which represents waste collectors, says there are concerning elements to the plan.

“The government is highlighting the fact that more items can be recycled, but the real story is private corporations taking over recycling and what this will mean for all of us,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario.

When private corporations take full control over the Blue Box program they’ll want to make a profit, so they’ll cut corners because profit is their bottom line, according to CUPE Ontario.   

“Corporations care about their profits over people and environmental protection – period,” said Hahn. “We are in a climate emergency and we need to have strong public programs that operate for the public good, which is clearer to Ontarians than ever since the pandemic.”

Hahn adds that the model is unsustainable and environmentally damaging because some items will be recyclable in residential areas but not at stores. There are also concerns about the lack of enforcement, for instance: requiring diversion rates; or conducting, growing, and maintaining a program.

With municipalities hit hard financially due to the pandemic, the Ford government is calling the EPR announcement an opportunity to cut costs, but the union is saying that this is the time for greater funding, not less.

“Instead of doing what’s needed to increase funding to shore up municipalities and ensure the services people depend on will continue, the Ford Conservatives are selling off public services to the private sector,” said David Petten, chair of CUPE Ontario’s municipal sector. “We have other options and we can’t allow misleading plans like the EPR to take us off course.”