We've been talking to businesses about single-use and reusable foodware

For the last 8 weeks, TEA’s summer hires, along with the interns at U of T Trash Team and Green Neighbours Network, set out across various neighbourhoods in Toronto to survey restaurants and cafes about their efforts, challenges & understanding of single-use waste reduction.

We targeted areas that had a high density of takeaway & dine-in food businesses, including North York along Yonge St, St Lawrence, Parkdale, Bloor West,, Waterfront and Scarborough Centre and Etobicoke. 

Sofiya, Mythreyi and Rianne surveying the Waterfront.

Waste reduction, particularly of single-use items, has been an increasingly important priority for customers and food businesses. This research project is especially timely as the federal ban of various single-use items has been set in place this year, catalyzing restaurants, cafes and other food businesses to find alternative ways to serve their food.

 Sofiya with Hafeez and Konya in Scarborough Centre

In order to have a clearer picture of businesses’ efforts, challenges, & understanding of reducing single-use waste, we have been collecting data and using motivational interviewing to comprehend what food businesses are experiencing. Our primary aim was to understand how decision-makers in food businesses are responding to the changes, and what is next for them. 

Additionally, businesses that were interested in learning more were provided with various resources to further support them in single-use waste reduction, including info on BYO (allowing customers to bring their own mug/container), reusable returnable foodware services available in Toronto, and other practices that reduce waste & save money. 

 Millie and Beatrix in Bloor West Village

This data collection is a continuation of surveying performed over the last two last summers with the U of T Trash Team. The findings from last year were compiled into a report & demonstrate that food businesses are supportive of stronger measures to reduce single-use waste, while also desiring more support in choosing economically viable solutions.

This year’s data will also be compiled into a report, which we will share with you as well as policy makers, in efforts to support informed decisions being made about addressing issues related to single-use waste.

The journey towards a circular economy is a collective one. We invite you to join us! 

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Thanks to our project partners: Enviromentum that provided coaching and support to the interns, Green Neighbours Network and their member groups across the city to expand our surveying to even more areas: Green 13 and Parkdale-High Park 4 Climate Action, St Lawrence Reduces and the St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association Waste Reduction Group, and Scarborough Environmental Association and Scarborough Zero Waste.