Waste management and recycling regulations in Ontario generally relate to the two areas where wastes are generated, namely the residential and the Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional (IC&I) sectors.

Residential waste management and recycling services are mandated by the provincial government, but are carried out by local municipalities. Each municipality develops its own waste management program which could include: curbside collection, depot drop-off, pay-as-you-throw or any combination of these elements as long as the program is in compliance with the requirements of the Environmental Protection Act.

Members of the IC&I sector are individually responsible for complying with waste related regulations and their compliance is determined by their size. The recent introduction of stewardship and/or extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations has extended the traditional responsibilities of many IC&I businesses. IC&I businesses that are producers of product and/or packaging are increasingly mandated to take physical and/or financial responsibility for the wastes that their products and/or packaging create.

Key laws in Ontario that affect waste and recycling activities:

1. Environmental Protection Act (EPA)
a. O. Reg. 101/07
b. O. Reg. 102/94
c. O. Reg. 103/94
d. O. Reg. 104
e. R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 347
2. The Waste-Free Ontario Act
3. The Environmental Assessment Act
4. The Planning Act

Diversion Rates (Tonnes) 2016

All materials diverted


White goods








Construction, renovation and demolition


Other materials


*All other materials than ‘Plastics’ may or may not have plastics in them.

Diversion Rate Trends

Source: State of Waste Management in Canada, April 2015


Material Recovery Overview:

Ontario has three diversion programs to reuse, recycle or safely dispose of waste including plastics:

  1. Blue Box Program – recycles printed paper and packaging (plastics, paper, glass, aluminum, steel).
  2. Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste Program – recycles or properly disposes of paint, antifreeze, batteries, fertilizers and other hazardous or special materials.
  3. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Program – reuses or recycles electronic equipment like computers, televisions and stereos.

The province also has the Ontario Deposit Return Program for beverage and alcohol containers.

Disposal Options

Energy Recovery from Waste Approach


Energy from waste is considered waste disposal and is not counted towards diversion. Facilities approved on a case-by-case basis, however biogas, biomass, and landfill gas (LFG) are included in the Ontario Green Energy Act (Ministry of Energy).


Landfill Operations

Number of landfills operating: 880, with 28 LFG recovery. No province-wide landfill bans are currently in effect.



Municipal Plastic Bans 


St. Catherines

City council unanimously passed a plastic straw ban in municipal facilities. The motion bans plastic straws and stir sticks for sale and use in city facilities, parks, city-run events and public spaces and requires non-plastic, compostable alternatives be used when necessary.


The U.K. environmental organization, Surfers Against Sewage, has listed Bayfield as a plastic-free community, the first community to receive the designation on this side of the ocean.


Councillors unanimously agreed to a resolution put forward by Coun. John Sless to have city staff analyze the impacts of single-use plastic straws in the municipality and how to reduce those impacts through their regulation and prohibition.