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City's pro-recycling packaging plan creates a tempest in a coffee cup

As published in the TorontoStar: http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/530668

Ban on paper cups with plastic lids 'dismays' Tim Hortons
Nov 05, 2008 04:30 AM










The plastic lid on a paper hot-beverage cup, left, will be banned by the end of 2009 under the city's recommended new packaging rules because the two materials don't mix in the recycling stream. The plastic lid used on a polystyrene foam cup would be allowed under the packaging proposal, because both are made of petrochemicals and can be recycled together

Who's tougher: Tim Hortons, or the City of Toronto? The city says it
will ban coffee shops and restaurants from selling java in paper cups
with plastic lids by the end of 2009, because recyclers don't want
mixed paper and plastic.

Tim Hortons executive Nick Javor says the company is "incredibly dismayed" with that position, and will try
to change the city's mind. 

The tempest in the coffee cup erupted as city staff unveiled their
report on "in-store packaging": items such as takeout food and drink
containers, and plastic bags, added by restaurants and retailers rather
than manufacturers.

Among the recommendations:

  • Shops and restaurants that sell hot drinks should be required to give customers a 20-cent discount if they bring their own mug;
  • Stores that give out plastic bags should be required to give customers who bring their own bags 10 cents off for every bag saved;
  • Nonrecyclable bags and coffee cups will be banned as of Dec. 31, 2009. Under the city's rules, any mixed-material container – such as a paper cup and a plastic lid – is nonrecyclable.

(Oddly, a polystyrene foam cup with a plastic lid is considered recyclable, because it's all petrochemical. Biodegradable plastic bags, on the other hand, will also be banned, because recyclers don't want them.)

  • The city wants to develop a reusable food container that meets health standards and can be used for picking up takeout food.
  • Sales of bottled water will be banned at Toronto City Hall and the former local city halls immediately. Sales will be banned at all other city facilities by Dec. 31, 2011.
  • Toronto will start accepting plastic grocery bags and foam packaging in blue boxes in December.

Javor led a chorus of negative business reaction to the proposed policies, which will go before the works committee next week and to city council in early December.

He disputed the city's claim that Timmy's cups are not recyclable.

"The cup can be recycled in other jurisdictions," he insisted. "It's being done in Windsor. ... It's being recycled in Owen Sound, it's being composted in Hamilton."

He was also unhappy with the 20-cent discount for bringing your own mug: Tim Hortons now offers 10 cents. Javor said the company saves 6 to 9 cents when customers bring their own; the city report claims the saving is 13 to 27 cents.

The company will "absolutely not" redesign its cups to suit Toronto, said Javor, who says plastic lids are the only leak-proof products on the market.

Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, who chairs the works committee, said he hopes business will go along with the city's efforts "and offer their customers a green choice."

One source of conflict could be if stores and customers disagree over how many bags have been saved when a customer brings his own.

"We're depending on Torontonians to be reasonable, and we're depending on stores to be reasonable as well," De Baeremaeker said.

Companies can be ordered to comply because the City of Toronto Act gives council power to enact bylaws for the city's "environmental well-being," he said.

But Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong was skeptical, arguing the proposed rules in effect set prices businesses must charge, under the guise of environmental rules.

He warned court battles could result.

Franz Hartmann, of the Toronto Environmental Alliance, welcomed the proposals, which he said will put "the onus on businesses who create a lot of packaging waste to conform to what the city needs."

But Stephanie Jones, vice-president of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said the city could simply educate consumers to take the plastic lid off before recycling their coffee cups.

City's pro-recycling packaging plan creates a tempest in a coffee cupNov52008.pdf64.37 KB