SAULT STE. MARIE -- A Sault-based environmental group says it wants to change how recycling is done in the province.

Clean North has joined 51 other groups, asking the province and municipalities to change to a system where the producer of hard-to-recycle materials must pay the costs for disposal.

"In the past, our thinking had always been short term, sort of dreaming our way into the future, but we can't keep doing that," said Peter McLarty, Clean North president. "We need to do something about this now, before it's too late."

According to the statement made by the environmental groups, less than seven per cent of Ontario's waste is recycled in blue boxes, with more than eight million tones of trash going to landfills and incinerators.

"If we show consumers the cost of what they're paying to subsidize these things, then maybe they'll start asking for alternatives," McLarty said.

A big focus for governments has shifted to single-use plastics, when it comes to recycling.

"The idea is that if a company is tasked with paying for the disposal or reuse of a product, it will be encouraged to make more durable products that don't hurt the bottom line," McLarty said.

Change coming in 2023

Sault Ste. Marie is also in agreement, with a commitment in place to remove itself from recycling by 2023.

"I think so far, the discussions surrounding this have been incredibly positive," said Luke Dufour, city councillor. "But it's really difficult to get kind of prescriptive with it until we see the details of where the province lands as far as how much latitude they're going to give producers."

Dufour said one model he'd like to see adopted by others is that of the Beer Store.

"They recapture and reuse some 90 per cent of their product or packaging and I think that is really the way to go," he said. "The problem is right now, there's no one packaging standards."

Dufour said he ultimately thinks the issue is above that of a municipal one, and McLarty agrees.

Meanwhile, Stewardship Ontario has already been tasked with transitioning the Ontario Blue Box program into a producer responsibility system.

However, that won't start until 2023.