Canadian Plastics

Toronto unveils new packaging proposal

Canadian Plastics   

Canadian Plastics

The City of Toronto has unveiled a new packaging proposal that it hopes will encourage consumers to use less plasti...

The City of Toronto has unveiled a new packaging proposal that it hopes will encourage consumers to use less plastic through incentives.

The proposal has several recommendations. First, shops and restaurants that sell hot drinks should be required to give customers a 20-cent discount if they bring their own mug. Second, stores that give out plastic bags should be required to give customers who bring their own bags 10 cents off for every bag saved. Third, 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. Third, the city wants to develop a reusable food container that meets health standards and can be used for picking up takeout food. Fourth, 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. Fifth, Toronto will start accepting plastic grocery bags and foam packaging in blue boxes in December.


The Environment and Plastics Industry Council (EPIC) praised the expanded recycling programs but characterized other proposals as “playing Russian Roulette with the health and safety of residents.” According to Cathy Cirko, vice president of EPIC, “adding these materials to the Blue Bin program is the right thing to do, but the City’s other recommendations result in an indirect tax on food, which could add as much as $100 million dollars to the cost of food and beverages in Toronto.”

The City also missed an opportunity to expand the Blue Bin program even further, Cirko said, by allowing residents to recycle clear polystyrene (used for baked goods, and fresh prepared produce) as do Kingston, Niagara, Barrie, Belleville, Trenton and the Region of Haldimand. “This would have allowed Toronto to divert a further 1,000 tons from landfill,” she said.

The Toronto packaging proposals are a small part of the city’s aim to divert approximately 70 per cent of its solid waste from landfill by 2010. In 2007 the diversion rate was 42 per cent. The packaging proposals address less than 1 per cent of the solid waste stream.

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