In 2021, TEA partnered up with the U of T Trash Team on a new pollution prevention project. We wanted to know: “What are the challenges and opportunities related to switching from single-use to reusable foodware materials in local businesses?”
Together, we conducted a study to examine the experiences of local businesses switching from single-use foodware to reusable options. The research included interviews with 12 businesses from Toronto, including sit-down restaurants, quick-service establishments and cafes, and showed that businesses are willing to make changes to reduce single-use foodware and promote reusables, but need guidance and support.
We found many Toronto food service businesses already consider the environment in business decisions and are already taking steps to reduce single-use items, offer reusable options, and noted that these actions can create benefits for their business.
The study identified a number of challenges and opportunities associated with reducing single-use foodware and switching to reusable options and how the right local policies and government support can help businesses achieve success in sustainability. Forthcoming regulations from federal and municipal governments to restrict and reduce single-use foodware present an important opportunity to address plastic pollution and achieve waste reduction and climate goals. As these regulations will impact local food service businesses.
In Toronto, data and insights from local businesses are important to shape policies, including Toronto’s Single-Use Reduction Strategy.