MEDIA RELEASE: New report shows Toronto businesses looking to make changes to reduce single-use foodware and promote reusables, but need guidance and support

For immediate release

March 30, 2022

TORONTO - A new report published today by the University of Toronto Trash Team and the Toronto Environmental Alliance shows that Toronto businesses are willing to make changes to reduce single-use foodware and switch to reusable alternatives, and that government regulations and programs can help businesses make the right choices for the environment. 

The report includes the results of a 2021 study on the challenges and opportunities for reducing single-use foodware and switching to reusable options in local food service businesses.

“As Federal and municipal governments are moving ahead with regulations on single-use items, we wanted to understand the experience of small businesses, and their perspective on local policies.” said Rafaela Gutierrez, lead author of the research and Program Lead of Social Science and Educational Programs with the U of T Trash Team. 

Of the twelve local businesses that participated in the study, almost all have already taken some steps to reduce single-use items, and say they consider the environment when purchasing foodware. Many offer reusable alternatives to disposables, such as encouraging customers to bring their own cup or container, or offering a reusable takeout service for customers to borrow and return cups or containers. 

The businesses interviewed noted that using reusable foodware saved them money and is something their customers appreciate. However, they identified the need for more government support to help them further reduce waste, including guidance on both sustainable options and health and safety, and public education campaigns. 

Toronto City Council is developing regulations to reduce single-use takeout items (such as cups, bags and utensils) as part of the City’s Single-Use Reduction Strategy. 

“Effective regulations to reduce single-use items need to push us towards low-cost zero waste reusables, and this study showed us that many businesses are already moving that way, and need support to do more,” said Emily Alfred, Waste Campaigner with the Toronto Environmental Alliance and co-author of the report. “Transitioning from single-use items towards reusable alternatives can be a win for businesses and the environment.” 

To access the report summary and full report, visit: 

To arrange an interview, please contact: 

Jolene Cushman, Toronto Environmental Alliance. [email protected] 

Susan Debreceni, U of T Trash Team. [email protected] 

About the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA): For over 30 years, the Toronto Environmental Alliance has campaigned locally to find solutions to Toronto's environmental problems. As a not-for-profit organization, we work with communities to advocate for a green, healthy and equitable city.

​About the U of T Trash Team: The U of T Trash Team, founded in 2017, is a science-based community outreach group made up of undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, researchers, local volunteers and staff all working together with a common goal to increase waste literacy in our community while reducing plastic pollution in our ecosystems. Their local projects use research to inform policy and management, and education and community outreach to increase waste literacy, engage the public and implement effective solutions. Their ultimate goal is to inspire an assortment of solutions resulting in the global reduction of waste and healthier habitats for wildlife and people.