Statement from the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) on Toronto’s vote to act on single-use packaging and misleading advertising (PW31.10)

For immediate release: July 27, 2018

Today, Toronto City Council voted to take the first critical step to act locally on the global plastics problem. Councillors voted to start a public and stakeholder consultation on what the City can do to reduce single-use packaging and plastics.

“Plastics and single-use packaging are a global problem that needs action by all levels of government. The City is on the front line of dealing with the environmental impacts of plastic pollution and the rising costs of recycling and waste management,” said Emily Alfred, Waste Campaigner for the Toronto Environmental Alliance. “We can’t wait for other levels of government to act. We can’t rely on businesses to volunteer to give up problem materials -- we need local regulations urgently.”

Council voted for Councillor Jaye Robinson’s motion to accelerate a staff consultation plan, adding a report back in date in January 2019 - one of the first meetings of the new City Council.  

The consultation will look at problem materials - such as unrecyclable black plastics, straws, and “compostable” plastic substitutes. It will also look at various regulatory and voluntary options to reduce them, including by-laws to restrict or ban their distribution, mandatory fees and mandatory signage in businesses.

Newly-elected Councillors will hear the results of the consultation and vote on recommended regulatory tools in early 2019. “While the City has the power to impose new by-laws and regulations on problem materials, we know that industry and retail associations will raise legal challenges against them,” Alfred warns. “That’s why this public consultation is so critical, to show that these decisions aren’t taken lightly.”

Past efforts by the City of Toronto to pass regulations on waste including coffee cups, and fees or bans on plastic bags drew legal challenges from retail, plastics and other industry associations. Similar regulations have been challenged in other cities. For example, Victoria, BC’s plastic bag ban was challenged in the Provincial Supreme Court by the Canadian Plastic Bag Association, though Victoria’s right to ban plastic bags was upheld by the court.  

“Toronto residents are ready to act on harmful single-use products and packaging. We’re looking forward to the chance to talk about the solutions and help Toronto be a leader in creating a circular economy,” said Alfred.

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For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact: 

Emily Alfred, Waste Campaigner - Toronto Environmental Alliance  emily@torontoenvironment.org