Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who is Circular Materials Ontario?
Circular Materials is a not-for-profit producer responsibility organization (PRO) established to support producers with meeting their obligations under extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations in Canada. In Ontario, this national organization is operating as Circular Materials Ontario (CMO) and will be providing producers with a full suite of EPR compliance services to meet the requirements of the province’s Blue Box Regulation. CMO is a registered PRO under Ontario’s Blue Box Regulation and will be providing all services, including collection, management, promotion and education, reporting, and rule creation.
2. Who is RLG?
RLG is a global specialist in reverse logistics management and designing and operating extended producer responsibility (EPR) compliance systems. RLG is:
  • Independent and unconflicted with other actors in markets for the collection and management of Blue Box materials,
  • Expert in information technology systems and circular economy informatics; and
  • Expert in the procurement, administration, and oversight of circular economy supply-chains and management of their underpinning commercial agreements.
3. What is the relationship between Circular Materials and RLG?
Circular Materials Ontario (CMO) and RLG are collaborating to provide participant producers with comprehensive reporting and compliance services. RLG will operate the portal where you will register with CMO and report your packaging, paper products and packaging-like products supplied each year. RLG will also manage the system to track quantities of Blue Box materials collected and managed, including an integrated IT system for subcontractor collection, transfer, processing, and recycling order management (track and trace), based on regulatory and producer requirements.
4. How is the new Blue Box Regulation different?
The new Regulation makes individual producers fully responsible for the collection and management of the packaging, paper products and packaging-like products they supply to Ontario consumers. Producers have full financial and operational responsibility for the collection and management of Blue Box materials with regulated management targets. Producers can join PROs like Circular Materials to meet regulatory obligations under the Blue Box Regulation (O. Reg. 391/21). Circular Materials Ontario is a full-service, not-for-profit PRO created and governed by producers.
5. When will producers be fully responsible for Ontario’s Blue Box system?
The Blue Box Regulation requires the transition of about 250 local blue box programs. These programs are currently operated by municipalities and First Nations but will be transitioned to full producer responsibility starting on July 1, 2023 and continuing until the transition is complete on January 1, 2026.
6. Is there a cost to signing up with Circular Materials Ontario?
There is no upfront cost to joining CMO. The Circular Materials’ Board of Directors is working with producers on the development of a fee-setting methodology that fairly allocates costs among participant producers.
7. What is the Representation Agreement?
The Representation Agreement (RA) is an agreement that producers can sign to have CMO act as their representative in the rule-making negotiations with other producer responsibility organizations. These discussions are expected to begin in November 2021. The RA only includes services related to rule creation. Producers looking for the full suite of compliance services to meet their obligations under Ontario’s Blue Box Regulation should request CMO’s Producer Services Agreement.
8. Why sign the Representation Agreement now?
Producers have an opportunity to shape the foundation of Ontario’s Blue Box Common Collection System. Working within a not-for-profit, producer-created and governed PRO provides producers with the ability to establish rules that meet producers’ specific needs including cost-efficiency, improved environmental outcomes and opportunities for innovation in support of producers’ commitment to sustainability.
9. Why sign the Representation Agreement with CMO?
CMO is the only not-for-profit, producer-created and governed PRO established solely to act in the interests of producers. CMO is unaffiliated with the waste management sector, so it can take an objective view in rule creation to set up a truly fair and open system of competitive procurement that encourages the greatest degree of competition among waste management companies for collection services. Harnessing the benefits of competitive procurement will provide a fair opportunity for all waste management companies to respond to RFPs for services, and, as a result, deliver the best value for producers and Ontario residents.
10. What is a Producer Services Agreement?
The Producer Services Agreement (PSA) is an agreement that sets out CMO’s full suite of service obligations to producers, including meeting your compliance requirements during transition and post-transition. It also outlines participant producer obligations to CMO, such as reporting the quantity of blue box material the producer supplied to consumers and paying producer fees. Although CMO has developed a stand-alone Representation Agreement (RA), the PSA serves as both a representation agreement and a compliance services agreement.
11. Why sign a CMO Producer Services Agreement now when transition doesn’t begin until 2023?
Although transition does not begin until July 1, 2023, the procurement of collection services will need to begin in 2022 following the submission of the allocation table to RPRA. Producers are responsible for establishing the collection system and managing blue box material collected from it. The PSA outlines how CMO will meet these obligations on behalf of producers. CMO is already working to establish an efficient recycling supply chain built on enhanced collection, optimized sortation, and greater access to recycled content. Joining CMO now allows producers to participate in the design of this system.
12. What will be determined in the rule creation period?
Rule-makers are qualified PROs that will develop rules to determine how Ontario’s new common collection system will be designed and delivered, including the procurement of collection services, the allocation of costs among PROs and the standards used for the collection of blue box materials. By applying these rules, an allocation table will be established to set out how communities across Ontario will be serviced by producers and how the table is maintained and updated.
13. What is the Allocation Table?
The Allocation Table will assign residences, facilities and public space locations in eligible communities to PROs and producers according to the rules developed during the rule making process.
14. Is my supply reporting to CMO the same as RPRA?
You will report the same data to CMO and RPRA but the format may be different. RPRA requires supply data by the six performance categories set out in the Regulation: Paper, Rigid Plastic, Flexible Plastic, Glass, Metal and Beverage Containers as well as data for certified compostable products and packaging for each of the five standards listed in RPRA’s Audit and Verification Procedure. RPRA’s Producer Registration Form tab 2 requires data to be reported in these categories. RPRA has provided a reporting converter in tab 3 based on the reporting categories under the Blue Box Program Rules for Stewards. CMO requires that you report more that the six performance categories so that it can assess how to fairly allocate material collection costs and commodity revenue among participant producers. To accommodate CMO reporting on your behalf (when allowed by RPRA), CMO will map its longer list of material categories to the six performance categories and certified compostable products and packaging so that your data is organized into the format required by RPRA.
15. Why do I need to report my supply data to CMO?
The data you report to CMO will be used to measure the quantity of each type of blue box material supplied by CMO’s producers. This reporting will help CMO plan for the collection and management of these materials starting on July 1, 2023 and for meeting the management targets for each category of material starting January 1, 2026. The data will also help CMO prepare for making rules to design and deliver Ontario’s new common collection system. Once CMO sets producer fees, your data will be used to calculate the fees you owe to CMO.
16. Is my supply reporting to CMO and RPRA the same as Stewardship Ontario?
No. The changes can be summarized under the following categories:
  • Changes to the definition of Producer;
  • Changes to the definition of Consumer;
  • Changes that result in an expansion of the scope of designated materials;
  • Changes that result in a reduction of the scope of designated materials; and
  • Changes to allowable deductions.
Details are in the answer to question 21 in this document.
17. What do I need to do by October 1 as a producer?
Register with RPRA and report 2020 supply data to RPRA.
18. When will my payments be finished with Stewardship Ontario?
Stewardship Ontario will continue to accept steward reports until May 2024 (2023 supply data). The last invoice for the 2024 reporting year will be due in October 2025. Since transition will begin in 2023, the total steward obligation is forecasted to decrease each year thereafter. For more details on the windup of Stewardship Ontario please visit their website.
19. How will my budget be impacted?
Total costs of delivering blue box services after transition are expected to increase to reflect the shift from shared to full producer responsibility, broader scope of obligated packaging, paper products and packaging-like products, a wider range of collection services and higher performance targets.
20. I’m a small business. How does this apply to me?
Producers with less than $2 million in annual revenue are only required to keep records.
Producers with more than $2 million in annual revenue but which supply less than the prescribed minimum threshold levels of blue box materials to Ontario consumers are required to register with RPRA, report information as set out in the Regulation and keep records, but are exempt from collection, management and promotion and education requirements.
21. What materials are covered under the new regulations?
There are three types of Blue Box materials in the Blue Box Regulation:
  • Blue Box packaging
    • primary packaging
    • transport packaging
    • convenience packaging service accessories
    • ancillary elements
  • Paper products
  • Packaging-like products
Obligated products and packaging are those primarily composed of glass, flexible or rigid plastic, metal, paper or a combination of these materials. There are some differences between what producers have been reporting to Stewardship Ontario under the Blue Box Program Plan and the data producers will be submitting to the RPRA Registry and to CMO through the Portal. The differences can be summarized under the following categories:
  • Changes to the definition of Producer;
  • Changes to the definition of Consumer;
  • Changes that result in an expansion of the scope of designated materials;
  • Changes that result in a reduction of the scope of designated materials; and
  • Changes to allowable deductions.

Changes to the Definition of Producer

Changes to the producer hierarchy may affect the blue box materials for which you are obligated. If this change affects you, the 2020 supply data you previously reported to Stewardship Ontario may require adjustments before reporting to RPRA and CMO. Brand holders resident in Canada that supply Blue Box materials to consumers are obligated, which differs from the Stewardship Ontario Blue Box Program where brand holders resident in Ontario are obligated. Where there was no brand holder previously resident in Ontario and where there is a brand holder resident in Canada, this will shift the obligation from the importer in Ontario to the brand holder resident in Canada. Non-resident retailers supplying Blue Box materials to consumers directly are now captured as a producer if a brand holder resident in Canada or an importer resident in Ontario cannot be identified. If a marketplace seller is the retailer of Blue Box materials supplied to consumers and the marketplace seller has a contract with a marketplace facilitator, the marketplace facilitator is the obligated producer. This captures blue box materials supplied to consumers in Ontario by producers who were previously exempt.

Changes to the Definition of Consumer

As producers are required to report the quantities of blue box material supplied to consumers, the definition of consumer is an important consideration in establishing which supplies are included in the reported quantities to RPRA and CMO. Since the definition of consumer for beverage containers includes supplies to persons that use the beverage and its container for personal, family, household or business purposes, all supplies of beverage containers supplied to the Ontario market are required to be reported in the gross quantities included in your Annual Producer Report. For all other blue box materials, only the materials supplied to persons that use the materials for personal, family or household purposes are to be reported. If the final end user of a product and its associated blue box material uses that product for their personal, family or household purposes, these materials are required to be included in your report, regardless of which sector these materials were distributed to or managed in.

Changes to Designated Materials – Scope Expansion

a. Paper Products
  • Unprinted paper has been added to the scope of designated materials expanding the scope from printed paper to include paper used for copying, writing or any other general use.
b. Packaging-like Products
  • A packaging-like product is a product such as aluminum foil, a metal tray, plastic film, plastic wrap, wrapping paper, a paper bag, beverage cup, plastic bag, cardboard box or envelope, that has all the following characteristics:
    1. The product is ordinarily used for the containment, protection, handling, delivery, presentation or transportation of a thing or things,
    2. The product is ordinarily disposed of after a single use, whether or not it could be reused, and,
    3. The product is not used as packaging when it is supplied to the end user. Packaging-like products do not include products made from flexible plastic that are ordinarily used for the containment, protection, or handling of food, such as cling wrap, sandwich bags, or freezer bags.
c. Service Accessories (cutlery, straws, stir sticks, etc.)
  • Service accessories are products supplied with a food or beverage product and facilitate the consumption of that food or beverage product and are ordinarily disposed of after a single use, whether or not they could be reused.
  • Reported quantities would not include supplies of service accessories that are sold as products to consumers for their subsequent use.
  • Service accessories are not limited to those made of rigid plastic and would include items made of paper, metal or certified compostable products and packaging.
d. Durable Packaging
  • There is no longer an explicit exclusion of durable packaging.
  • Therefore packaging such as CD cases, boxes for board games/puzzles and plastic power tool cases should be included in your Annual Producer Report.

Changes to Designated Materials – Scope Reduction

a. Containers in Household and Special Products (HSP) Regulation
  • Containers for products designated under the HSP Regulation (i.e. solvents, paints and coatings, fertilizers, pesticides, antifreeze) are excluded from the Blue Box Regulation.
  • Packaging and paper products associated with HSP that are not required to be reported under the HSP Regulation are captured by the Blue Box Regulation. This includes:
    • Corrugated and boxboard boxes
    • Shrink wrap
    • Plastic film
    • Printed paper
b. Certified Compostable Products and Packaging While there is a reporting requirement to include the weight of certified compostable products and packaging in your annual producer report to RPRA and CMO, there is no management target for these materials. c. Natural Textiles As natural textiles (i.e. textile packaging made of cotton, etc.) are excluded from the Blue Box Regulation, packaging made from natural textiles is no longer required to be included in your Annual Producer Report. Changes to Allowable Deductions Under the Blue Box Regulation, two allowable deductions to the gross quantities of blue box materials can be reported to RPRA and CMO. These deductions will need to be reported separately from the gross quantities supplied for each blue box material reporting category. Allowable deductions are those blue box materials that are:
  • Deposited into a receptacle at a location that is not an eligible source and where the product related to the blue box material was supplied and used or consumed. For example, a cup supplied to be used by a customer and deposited into a receptacle at a fast-food restaurant.
  • Collected from an eligible source at the time a related product was installed or delivered. For example, packaging that is supplied with a new appliance and is removed from the household by a technician installing the new appliance.
No other deductions are available to producers under the Blue Box Regulation, including blue box material taken out from a restaurant and subsequently disposed of at an office or another away from home location.
22. What is the definition of a Producer?
The determination of a Producer is outlined in Part II of the Regulation.
  1. If your company supplies packaging to consumers in Ontario and is the brand holder resident in Canada, your company is the Producer as the brand holder.
  2. If your company is resident in Ontario and imports packaging for which there is no brand holder resident in Canada, your company is the Producer as the importer.
  3. If these two situations do not apply, then the obligated Producer is the retailer.
If a retailer is determined to be the Producer based on the hierarchy, but they are a marketplace seller, the marketplace facilitator is the obligated producer. A marketplace facilitator is a person who contracts with a marketplace seller to facilitate the supply of the marketplace seller’s products by:
  1. owning or operating an online consumer-facing marketplace or forum in which the marketplace seller’s products are listed or advertised for supply and where offer and acceptance are communicated between a marketplace seller and a buyer (e.g., a website), and
  2. providing for the physical distribution of a marketplace seller’s products to the consumer (e.g., storage, preparation, shipping of products).
A marketplace seller is a person who contracts with a marketplace facilitator to supply its products. Where the producer, determined by the hierarchy above, is a business operated as a franchise, the obligated Producer is the franchisor if that franchisor has franchisees resident in Ontario. With respect to blue box packaging (primary, convenience and transport packaging, ancillary product or a service accessory), there are stipulations in the Regulation on the addition of packaging to a product and who is the responsible party. When brand holders resident in Canada and importers resident in Ontario are identified as the producer, they are only obligated for the portion of the blue box packaging they added to the product. For example, if a retailer adds blue box packaging to a product for which there is a brand holder in Canada, the brand holder is responsible for their portion of the blue box packaging and the retailer is responsible for the portion of the blue box packaging they added.
23. What is my management requirement?
Your management requirement is the portion of your supply in the previous year that you are obligated to manage in the next calendar year. Management requirements differ by material category. For the years 2026 to 2029 and then in 2030 and beyond, the Regulation sets out the recovery percentage that must be met for each performance category. These recovery performance targets apply only to producers that supply more than the minimum amount listed in the following table per year. For the transition years 2023 to 2025, the Regulation requires that producers make best efforts to achieve the 2026 – 2029 Recovery Percentage prorated to reflect the phased transition schedule:
  1. the management requirement for each material category in 2023 is reduced by two thirds;
  2. the management requirement for each material category in 2024 is reduced by one third; and
  3. the management requirement for each material category in 2025 is not reduced.

24. What are the rules for recovery targets and achieving my management requirement?
The recovered resources must be recovered from the blue box materials supplied to consumers in Ontario. Only materials that were re-marketed for use in new products or packaging (i.e., recycled) or for re-use in their original function can be counted towards recovery, unless used for aggregate (up to a maximum of 15% of the producer’s management requirement for any material category) or to support soil health or crop growth (e.g. from composting paper in combination with organic materials). Materials used as fuel or directed to energy-from-waste, incineration or landfilling cannot be counted towards management targets. Materials must be counted towards a recovery target only once. Recovery of materials from one category cannot be attributed to another category. Recovered materials must be processed by a processor that is registered with RPRA. The recovered resources must be processed within three months of collection.
25. Is supply data subject to audit?
Starting in 2025, supply data for the quantity of Blue Box materials supplied in the 2024 calendar year reported to RPRA will be subject to an audit to verify accuracy. Documentation confirming audit verification must be submitted when supply data are reported to RPRA. The verification must include an opinion on the accuracy of the supply data and the qualifications of the verifier to provide the opinion. The verifier must:
  • assess and document the reasonableness of the producer’s methodology for determining the Blue Box material supply; and
  • obtain and review supporting evidence as required, including verification of certification of certified compostable products and packaging.
Refer to RPRA’s Blue Box Verification and Audit Procedure.
26. Is performance data subject to audit?
Starting in 2027, for the years 2024 to 2026, and every three years after, the practices and procedures producers undertake to meet their management requirements must be audited against PART VI of the Regulation and Section 51 (1) sub paragraphs 7 to 11. Supply data which forms the denominator for the calculation of management performance, the calculation methodology, methods to recover resources and weights recovered are included in the scope of the audit. Part VI of the Regulation sets out certain rules for recovery that must be followed and confirmed through an audit. In reaching an opinion, the auditor is expected to:
  • assess and document the reasonableness of the blue box producer’s methodology, or the PRO’s methodology where a producer has retained a PRO, to develop the data that is required to be prepared and submitted to the Authority; and
  • obtain and review supporting evidence, as required.
CMO will arrange for a single audit report to be submitted on behalf of all our producer customers. Refer to RPRA’s Blue Box Verification and Audit Procedure.
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