At its June meeting, Toronto City Council voted to move forward with the first phase of a Single-Use Reduction Strategy targeting disposable cups, bags, utensils and containers! This is a good first step, but it’s only the beginning. Thank you to everyone who spoke up to show support and push Council to take bold and swift action. Here’s what we won and what’s next.
Here’s what we won:
Council approved the first phase of the Single-Use Reduction Strategy, which will kickstart a City-run program to encourage and support businesses like restaurants to shift away from disposable, single-use foodware and towards reusable alternatives.
Together, we pushed City Council to restart its work on tackling disposables, and got them to take additional steps!
This Single-Use Reduction Strategy came after years of campaigning for action on single-use plastics, and more than 2 years of consultations with record-breaking participation.
Thanks to TEA’s recommendations, and the quick action from individuals, groups and businesses to send in letters, Council unanimously supported two important additions made by Councillor Layton to the Phase 1 strategy: to accelerate the strategy and lead by example in City facilities.
- In letters and our deputation, we urged Council to accelerate the first phase of the Reduction Strategy to get information about reducing waste, ‘ask-first’ policies for utensils, and reusable containers available as soon as possible. This will help businesses review their practices and make reduction and reuse a part of their reopening plans this summer.
- We also successfully urged the City to commit to a leadership role, ensuring that all City-run facilities, and vendors on City properties (e.g. food services in Toronto parks and beaches) make an effort to adopt the waste reduction practices the City will be promoting to private businesses. This will not only reduce waste, but provide evidence and vital information on how best to transition many different food services from disposable to reusables.
At the June meeting, Council also voted to urge the Federal government to move quickly with the national plastics strategy and bans. All levels of government need to act to curb the single-use plastics and other disposables that are harming our health and environment.
The voluntary actions in Phase 1 of the Single-Use Reduction Strategy must be followed with strong regulations to reduce and restrict disposables and shift our city towards reusable alternatives! In early 2022, Council will vote on Phase 2 of the Single-Use Reduction Strategy which will include a range of potential mandatory regulations to restrict and ban single-use foodware and bags.
The City will outline potential local regulations after the Federal government announces details of nationwide single-use plastic bans. However, the City can also take bans and regulations even further, and lay the groundwork for businesses and community spaces to transition from disposables to reusables. And if the Federal government is slow to act, the City must continue to move ahead and not delay action.
Keeping up the pressure:
We know from the two years of public consultations in Toronto, from national public opinion polls, and from the new reusable-focused businesses popping up around our city, that a strong majority of Torontonians want bold municipal action to reduce and regulate single-use items. While the plastics industry is taking advantage of the pandemic to push single-use plastics, public health professionals around the world have said reusables are safe.
Right now, Toronto has an opportunity to support local businesses and communities to reopen safely and sustainably and move our city towards a resilient circular economy. We’ll be continuing to keep the pressure for action on disposables and for Toronto to move towards a more sustainable and healthy future.