The Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO), established in Toronto, Ontario in 1978, was modeled after the Recycling Council of British Columbia. The RCO was created to help Ontario's struggling recycling operators cooperatively market the newspapers, glass, and metal cans, which they were collecting from community recycling depots and door-to-door drives. In the 1980s, RCO began to host conferences and seminars to discuss a wide range of recycling issues from technology and subsidies for recyclers, to government policies and public education. RCO had an active role in the development and introduction of a test Blue Box program in Kitchener, Ontario in 1981. At a United Nations dinner during the 1989 "Our World" Summit on the Environment in Toronto, the United Nations Environment Program presented an Environmental Leadership award to the RCO for its contribution and leadership of the Blue Box program.
To support the newly adopted 3Rs regulations in Ontario (1994), RCO provided information, guidance and resources to those in the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (IC&I) sector who were obligated under the Regulation to reduce their waste. In the late 1990s, RCO was appointed by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to lead the "Roles and Responsibilities" forum facilitating discussions between industry and municipalities. These discussions lead to the adoption of Ontario's only stewardship legislation, the Waste Diversion Act (WDA). This law provides the legislative backdrop for the Minister of the Environment to require brand owners to be responsible, physically or financially, for the 'end of life' management of their products and packaging. RCO is the only not-for-profit environmental organization directly involved in the development of stewardship programs.
Today, RCO continues to play a vital role in building awareness of the issues of waste and the opportunities to eliminate it through the 3Rs. Further, we continue to: